App helps first responders approach people in crisis

App helps first responders approach people in crisis

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — For those with mental or physical disabilities, moments of crisis and high-stress situations can causes panic or unpredictable responses.

That’s why Mankato Public Safety is using an app that can help them approach those with special needs.

The Vitals App provides first responders with medical data and other critical information when they come into contact with a vulnerable person.

When a person wearing a Vitals Bluetooth Beacon comes within 80 feet of a first responder, it notifies that responder’s smartphone device on their unique needs and the best way to interact with them.

“We will get an alert and we won’t get an alert until we get within that distance. And that alert will provide information to the responder in real-time. Information provided by the person themselves, a parent, or a caregiver that may have information such as emergency contacts, ways to calm, ways to de-escalate,” said Officer DuRose.

Beacons can also alert caregivers when the wearer has wandered away.

Personal profiles are private and temporarily shared with first responders.

Lisa Hoffman Wojcik knows first-hand how helpful the service can be.

“Our son’s extremely vulnerable and has a number of medical conditions and so the medical conditions, in particular, are difficult if you don’t necessarily know him because it could be multiple things should there be an emergency,” explained Wojcik.

The app also works wherever other agencies use the service.

“He’s also going to attend college in the fall, in a one year program and live in adult foster care. So I’m excited because they also have this program. So for me and my family that is a piece of mind that, that information will be available no matter who responds,” said Wojcik.

Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up for the app online. To help make the service more accessible to residents, first-time subscribers will receive a Bluetooth beacon at no cost. A monthly cost is associated with the service.

For more information, contact staff at 311 or 507-387-8600.

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