BRANSON, Mo. — Making a police encounter safer for everyone involved. The Branson Police Department now has a better way of interacting with people who have special conditions or disabilities. It’s a new service called “Vitals,” made by The Vitals App.
The Vitals app is basically a beacon that people with an invisible illness can wear as a bracelet, attach it to a shoelace or even a necklace. Branson PD recommended Jeremy Rouch’s daughter Noah, who has high-functioning autism, wears a Vitals bracelet. So, if Noah were to ever take off, Jeremy would be able to track her.
“This is a lot of security and peace of mind for us,” Rouch said. “If she gets farther than 80 feet from us, we’re going to get an alert to our phone, and we’re going to be able to track her down. What would normally take a lot of people, a search team possibly, and a lot of manpower is condensed to our phones.”
The app operates off of Bluetooth technology, which sends out a signal to the affected families and first responders. Any first responder that has the app on their phone picks up the person’s signal – if they’re within 80-100 feet of the beacon.
Eric Schmitt, assistant chief of the Branson Police Department, says often times officers unknowingly encounter someone with an invisible illness. He says if someone acts violently towards an officer, his staff is trained to react a certain way. Schmitt says this app offers his department a solution.
“I can tell you, absolutely, unequivocally, there is not an officer out there that wants to go out and put hands on somebody that is suffering from something that they don’t know about,” Schmitt said. “But, at the same time, if we don’t know and somebody’s aggressive towards us, we don’t want to get injured. So, this gives us a tool that we’ve never had ever before.”
Schmitt says this is a newer app that is only going to be successful if the people that need it are using it. He says the app is being used in 75 communities across the country, but Branson is the first tourist destination on board with it.
To get involved and/or learn more about the app, click here.