911Ready raises awareness of autism during emergencies in Brownstown and Allen Park

BROWNSTOWN CITY, Mich. – Just in time for Autism Awareness Month, a Downriver organization is launching a revolutionary program to help children and adults with autism and other special needs.

911Ready’s voluntary opt-in program sends notifications with critical information, including a photo, to First responders during an emergency.

“When you have outbreaks at home and maybe you’re thinking about calling the police, you always doubt it because you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Chris Kenniburg said.

Chris Kenniburg and his wife Stephanie Kenniburg have children with mental illness and autism. They addressed the challenges and concerns of calling 911 at their autism support group in an emergency.

Lisa Vilella leads these support groups as part of her non-profit Mimi’s Mission.

“One of our members is Danny; he’s non-verbal, 19, cognitively two years old, he’s 6’1 and weighs 450 pounds,” said Viella. “He’s very intimidating. So if you didn’t know anything about him before you got there, you would treat him like a man.”

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Villella developed 911Ready. Vilala worked closely with Lt. Andrew Starzec from the worked Brownstown Police Department for the last four years.

Read: The nonprofit Metro Detroit gives first responders 911Ready Bags to help people with autism in emergencies

“There’s no eye for autism and people aren’t trained in autism, so how do you help these community members or even learn about them?” asked Villella.

Families register themselves here and upload a picture and helpful notes.

This information is sent to first responders.

“If the address is within the 911Ready program, an alert will appear on the dispatcher’s screen and on the mobile computers in the squad cars,” Lt. Starzec.

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The service costs $40 per year for the first person in the household and $10 for each additional member in the same household.

The Kenniburgs have already signed their 12-year-old.

“In stressful situations, he may not react even though he speaks,” said Stephanie Kenniburg. “And I also noted in our notes that when his speech was garbled, if he has something important to say to you, he is a very good writer.”

Lt. Starzec said this service will be one less thing for families to worry about during an emergency.

“If your house is on fire, if your loved one has a medical problem,” Lt. Starzec. “It’s already done. The police don’t get paid for that. It’s actually a cost to us. But it’s something we’re willing to invest in.”

Other special needs this 911Ready system was designed to address:

  • Alzheimer’s / Dementia

  • Brain Injury / TBI

  • Do not revive (DNR)

  • hearing impaired

  • Medical pumps / ventilators

  • Mobility Impaired (Wheelchair Required) / Amputees

  • visually impaired

  • Mental illnesses (bipolar, PTSD, schizophrenia, violent tendencies)

  • Nonverbal (can’t speak)

  • Obesity (over 250 lbs when rescue may require lifting)

To bring this 911Ready program to your community, first responders must contact 911Ready.

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911Ready also provides police and fire departments with bags to de-escalate a person with autism in an emergency.

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