Raleigh County Sheriff trying to get 911 Special Needs Registry Bill passed

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) Raleigh County Sheriff Jim Canaday is passionate about getting a 911 registry bill he and Delegate Todd Kirby introduced passed.

It would allow first responders greater success and safety in dealing with those with special needs.

“We have a family friend who’s a special needs mom that had posted on Facebook about a Florida registry initiative,” Canaday said. “My wife showed it to me and it just made so much sense — I couldn’t believe we weren’t doing it.”

The registry is voluntary and the sheriff says it has a law enforcement, fire department and EMS purpose because sometimes special needs children react differently to different situations.

“What I want to get out is what would you as a special needs parent want me as a first responder to know about your child if you can’t talk to me,” he said.

Information on the form you submit will go to the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh County.

“If the fire department were dispatched to your home, the dispatcher through EOC could say there’s a special needs child here that’s non-verbal,” said Canaday. “They may be running from the lights and you might need to search for them.”

According to the sheriff, law enforcement now has training dealing with special needs and mental health crises and ways to identify them.

“Some could be non-verbal. Some could maybe go toward light or hide from light,” he said.

“So what we want to do is give these folks an opportunity to make their interactions with first responders safer for everybody and make sure that everybody’s on the same page.”

Canaday initially connected with Kirby about trying to get this bill written.

“He did write the bill; unfortunately it didn’t make it out of committee,” said the sheriff.
“But I felt strongly about this so we’re gonna try to continue to do that in Raleigh County, and I believe Delegate Eric Brooks is gonna take it up again with the legislature when they come in next session.”

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