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“Officer of the Month” Recognition for Tompkins and Ithaca Emergency Services Personnel for Saving Lost Child Using Swift911™ Notification System

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“Officer of the Month” Recognition for Tompkins and Ithaca Emergency Services Personnel for Saving Lost Child Using Swift911™ Notification System

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Ithaca Kiwanis Club has recognized members of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Emergency Response, and officers of the Ithaca Police Department, as “Officers of the Month” for October.  The emergency services personnel were recognized for their actions to assist and return a lost child safely through effective use of the County’s Swift911™ notification system.

Receiving the award today were Sgt. Kyle Koskinen and Deputy Stephen Moracco, of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office; Sgt. Kevin Slattery and Sgt. Barry Banfield, of the Ithaca Police Department; and Dispatch Supervisor David Cotterill, and Emergency Services Dispatchers Alex Kreutzer, Stephanie Gonzalez, and Michael Collins of the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response.

Recommending them for the award, Tompkins County Communications Center Manager Christina Dravis described the incident in her nomination letter:

On Saturday August 18, 2018 at about 4:00 AM the Tompkins County 9-1-1 Center received reports of a young juvenile walking alone on State Route 79 in the Town of Caroline. The Tompkins County 9-1-1 Center immediately dispatched deputies from the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office to the area.

While deputies were responding to the area they were advised by the 9-1-1 Center that two off-duty officers from the Ithaca Police Department who happened to be travelling in the area came across the juvenile and contacted the 9-1-1 Center. The off-duty officers checked the juvenile and discovered the child was having difficulty communicating, was very upset and confused, and could not provide any information about why he was on the road at that time of the morning. Deputies arrived on the scene and confirmed the child was not injured. They conducted a canvass of the area but were unable to locate the juvenile’s residence or further information on the child’s identity.

Deputies on scene working with dispatchers at the 9-1-1 Center decided to utilize the Tompkins County Swift911™ notification system in an attempt to locate someone in the area that might provide information concerning the juvenile. A message was distributed through the Swift911™ notification system in a specific radius from where the child was located and was received by several hundred residents in the area. Within minutes the Tompkins County 9-1-1 Center received two phone calls from residents who provided information on a possible address for the child. Utilizing this information, deputies were able to locate the child’s residence and parent and return the child home safely.

Tompkins County 9-1-1 Center Dispatch Supervisor David Cotterill who was on duty that morning stated, “It was very cool to see the system work and immediately produce results to help us return the scared child home safely.”

Tompkins County began using the Swift911™ notification system in November 2017. At that time every landline within Tompkins County was automatically added to the system. Since then thousands of additional residents have voluntarily registered through cell phones and social media to receive emergency notification through the system. “The system has been used to notify Tompkins County residents of significant events where the public’s help was needed and other emergency situations such as weather related incidents and road closures, but this was the first time in resulted in the safe return of a found child to a parent,” Dravis’s letter notes.  “Teamwork like this occurs on a routine basis between multiple public safety agencies within Tompkins County.”

Residents interested in subscribing to the Swift911 notification system can visit the Tompkins County website www.TompkinsCountyNY.gov and click on the Swift911 banner or email Swift911@tompkins-co.org (include your name, address and phone number in the email). Residents can also call 607-266-2630 or text SWIFT911 to 99538.