Public Safety

Take Me Home Program is a Life Saver

The call to the Sheriff’s Department Communications Center came in around 5:30 p.m. A 9-year-old autistic child had wandered away from his home in Encinitas.

Sheriff’s deputies and air support both began the search for the child. When at-risk individuals are reported missing, time is one of the most critical elements in locating them.

“Since the Sheriff Department had the critical personal information and photo of the child in our data base, the responding deputies were able to locate the child within 15 minutes of the call – safe and sound hiding in a vehicle down the street,” said Henry Tirado, a crime prevention specialist with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

That data base is the County’s Take Me Home program. It’s a registry that serves people who have developmental disabilities or medical conditions that increase their chances of wandering off and becoming lost.

In order to participate in the program, an individual must have limited ability or the inability to communicate their needs and personal information to law enforcement and first responders.

“Members of this group may not be able to identify themselves or provide accurate information to first responders about their immediate needs,” said Tirado. “They are usually also unable to provide their caregiver’s information.”

The system can quickly provide crucial information about medical conditions, special care instructions, behavioral characteristics, a detailed description of the person and his or her photo. This information minimizes law enforcement response time and aids in maximizing search efforts.

The Take Me Home data base is confidential and is only accessible to first responders and law enforcement across the San Diego region.

Enrollment is free and easy and requires submitting an enrollment form and a digital photo.

For more information or to register someone for the Take Me Home program contact one of the organizations:

ARC, Alzheimer’s Association, Area Board XIII of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Autism Society, Epilepsy Foundation, Marine & Family Services, North Coastal Consortium for Special Education, San Diego/Imperial Counties Development Services, Inc., St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, Stepping Stone Resources and United Cerebral Palsy and the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

In addition, people may contact  Tirado at (760) 966-3588 or .

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact