Vitals is a new technology, a service with two apps, designed to create safer interactions between law enforcement and people with behavioral, mental health, and developmental disorders. A first of its kind, the Vitals first responder app is a non-intrusive, real-time service developed as a way to enhance policing, give families of vulnerable individuals more peace of mind, and improve the quality of life for people living with “invisible” disabilities.
The St. Paul Police Department is the first to partner with Vitals and is in the process of training its officers on how and when to use the app. Other metro and Greater Minnesota police departments are planning to implement Vitals in the coming weeks as usage of the new app is expected to spread quickly across the region and country over the next several months.
The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM), a founding partner in the development of Vitals, believes Vitals will help law enforcement interact with the autistic community in a way that is safer for individuals and families.
“As a mother of an autistic child, it’s very stressful thinking about how police officers would interact with my son during an incident, if they would not have the information about him immediately at their disposal” says Dawn Brasch, mother of an autistic child and director for the AuSM.
“I applaud the leadership of the St. Paul Police department. By taking the initiative and implementing Vitals, they see the need and potential to save lives and stand up for the mental health community.”
When St. Paul Police leadership learned about Vitals, they knew the app aligned perfectly with their vision of supporting officers’ interaction with vulnerable individuals more effectively. “We are excited about this new partnership with Vitals,” says police chief Todd Axtell.
“We embrace using technology to help save lives and protect our residents and communities. The nature of our business is to make quick decisions with limited information. Vitals will provide more information to our officers about a vulnerable child, teenager or adult. We believe Vitals will help us make better informed decisions when responding to incidents.”
The Arc Greater Twin Cities, one of the strongest advocates for promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, endorses Vitals and its partnership with St. Paul Police.
“Our focus is on supporting individuals and their families obtain a lifetime of full inclusion and participation in their communities," says Steve Pikarski, chief program officer of The Arc Greater Twin Cities. “Supporting Vitals is simply the right thing to do. This service directly impacts people with disabilities. It improves their quality of life, keeps them safe and supports their desire to live independent lives.”
Pacer has also endorsed Vitals as a technology advancement bridging the information gap to better serve the community and protect vulnerable individuals. Bridget Gilormini, director of Pacer’s Simon Technology Center, is impressed with the platform, describing it as using contextual computing to keep individuals out of harm’s way.
“Contextual computing has emerging implications for individuals with disabilities that are impacting lives right now. Vitals technology represents a new wave of contextual computing that has the potential to change the future outcomes of stressful situations that sometimes individuals with disabilities find themselves in,” Gilormini added.
Vitals was developed by local entrepreneurs, technologists and investors who were motivated to “give back” after learning about how vulnerable populations are at risk in their communities. “Our idea is to give first responders crucial information at critical times, so tragedies can be avoided,” says Steve Mase, CEO of VariAware, the parent company of Vitals.
How does it work?
- Vitals Profile: Families or caregivers create and manage a Vitals profile that contains information about conditions, medications, triggers, de-escalation techniques, videos or images they respond to, medical information and caregiver contact information.
- Vitals Beacon: Profiles are assigned to a Vitals beacon which is carried with the vulnerable person via a Vitals card, button or phone.
- Vitals First Responder App: Authorized first responders receive an alert and access to any Vitals Profile when they are within 30 to 80 feet of a Vitals beacon.
For individuals, families and caregivers:
- Buy a Vitals beacon
- Download the app
- Create your app profile