JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new database to register people at risk for going missing is now live in Jacksonville.
On Thursday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff T.K. Waters and Fire Chief Keith Powers launched a way for caregivers to voluntarily register their loved ones who may have cognitive, memory or sensory disabilities, giving first responders vital information in case they go missing.
It’s called the Registry for Endangered, Vulnerable and Missing Persons within Duval County (R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval).
When someone goes missing, every minute counts, and a search can use considerable resources from Jacksonville police and firefighters. The program, built by local first responders, can give search teams a head start, increasing their chances of finding someone.
“To have this type of information innovation right here in Jacksonville just speaks to the type of folks that we have,” said Curry.
The chief of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department calls it a game changer.
“Because of the time that we save on the searches — when you can save two hours on the front end,” Powers said.
Besides contact information and commonly visited places, the city is asking for information about someone’s disabilities, behaviors, the best method to approach a person, and their modes of transportation — like walking, biking or riding the bus. Only first responders will have access.
“We already know our patients on the autism spectrum. There is an attraction to water. So we know that. Those are the first places we go. Those are the first things we look at. And then, after that to have that extra information is going to be extremely important because we can deploy our resources very quickly,” said Waters.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and JFRD will add it to their Missing Endangered Persons Search and Rescue (MEPSAR) program, which uses data and computer analytics to calculate where someone could be. They’ve deployed MEPSAR 104 times, they’ve recovered the missing person 103 times, and 94 of those people were found alive.
In January, a 78-year-old man with dementia was found alive in a wooded area after a three-day search.
Germilus Nonord disappeared around 6 p.m. Jan. 10 from his home on the Westside.
“He left the house before. ... But when he left the house, he had one of the trackers on him. It was easy for us to find him. But the last time, there was no luck at all,” said Anita Nonord, his daughter. “It was just like the first day we’re looking and we think we’re going to find him. When the second day passed, oh, my God, it just, like, heart breaking. It just like we broke completely. Like, but then the third day, when, you know, they find him? Wow.”
JFRD Capt. Colin Aguilar and Engineer Akil A.K. Buchanan were among the acres of search crews brought in to find Germilus Nonord in the dense, swampy woods off Connie Jean Road.
“We got out here and found his items of clothing,” Aguilar said, recalling right before they found Germilus Nonord on Jan. 12. “Had taken off his clothes when they got wet in the mud.”
“We were over here, and was talking, and he probably heard the voices, so he decided to move,” Buchanan recounted. “Whatever little strength he had left, he decided to move, and that caught my attention to see that something was moving inside the bushes.”
Rescuers knew where to look for Germilus Nonord thanks to MEPSAR, whose special mapping technology creates high areas of probability, telling search crews where they will likely find a missing endangered person.
“We had our doubts, but the data was telling us that we were right on,” said JSO Missing Persons Unit Sgt. Michael Monts, MEPSAR co-creator. “And I can tell you I had my doubts. I didn’t trust the data. But when the captain came across the radio and said we got him and he’s alive, I can tell you it was like a ride at Disney. It was an amazing feeling.”
But in that race against time to find someone who’s disappeared, it takes much longer — an extra two to three hours — just to collect information from a family about their missing loved one who has dementia, autism or other cognitive impairments. Jacksonville first responders created a way to eliminate those extra hours and allow families to provide the information ahead of time through the new registry R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval.
“Sometimes in these moments of tragedy, the families aren’t great historians, and that’s typical,” said JFRD Battalion Chief of Special Operations Gary Kuehner, MEPSAR co-creator. “But with the R.E.V.A.M.P., when the data’s been collected in a non-emergency environment, there’s a non-emotional environment, that’s going to be important for us.”
Rescuers are now trying to get families to sign up their loved ones — it could make the difference between life and death. They also plan to meet with groups to spread the word about R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval.
“Our team is going to be going out, meeting with the [Duval County Medical Society], the Alzheimer’s Association and different groups like that and presenting this information to them to encourage folks to register their loved ones,” Powers said.
The funding for the project came from the mayor’s budget for the city’s fire and rescue department.
To register someone, visit JaxReady.com/REVAMP or call 904-255-3172. Participants will have to re-register every year.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about REVAMP Duval
- Question: What is REVAMP Duval?
Answer: R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval is the Registry for Endangered, Vulnerable and Missing Persons within Duval County. This free, secure registry allows caregivers to register those in their care with cognitive, memory impairment or sensory disabilities who may be prone to wandering off.
First responders will utilize the information caregivers, and loved ones provide to aid in search and rescue efforts. Having access to vital information — such as photos, frequently visited locations, critical medical conditions and communication needs — allows first responders to better assist the missing individual.
- Question: Who should register for R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval?
Answer: R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval is intended for individuals with cognitive impairment, memory impairment or sensory disabilities, such as but not limited to Alzheimer’s and autism.
These individuals may be at risk for wandering off from their place of residence or facility and predisposed to becoming disoriented to time and place, requiring assistance from emergency responders to be returned safely home.
- Question: Why register?
Answer: If your loved one were to wander, time is of the essence. This registry decreases the time needed to gather information and search for endangered, vulnerable and missing persons throughout Duval County.
The information entered in the registry becomes available to police and fire personnel during response efforts. This provides responders with important context about any behaviors, critical medical conditions and the best method of approaching the individual when searching for them
- Question: What information is collected by R.E.V.A.M.P.?
Answer: All responses are optional and provided on a voluntary basis. Information can include the following:
– The name, age, address and description of the person
– The name, address and contact information of the individual entering the data and any other support person who might be able to assist the person being registered
– Disabilities or critical medical conditions the person may have
– Behaviors that may be exhibited by the person
– The best method for approaching the person
– Any methods of transportation and locations the person frequently visits
- Question: Who has access to this personal information?
Answer: The information contained in the registry is restricted for emergency responder access only. It is limited to a “need-to-know” basis for official search and rescue operations.
- Question: How do I register?
Answer: If you care for someone or have a loved one who may benefit from being registered in R.E.V.A.M.P. Duval, visit JaxReady.com/REVAMP or call 904-255-3172 for more information.
- Question: How long is my information retained?
Answer: The registered persons must re-register annually. You will be notified by email, phone and mail when it is time to re-register.