New Program Helps Find Missing Children and Adults With Alzheimer's

September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 12, 2010 at 6:29 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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September 27, 2013 Updated Apr 12, 2010 at 6:29 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) The next time your phone rings, it could be a very important call. A major push is underway to expand a successful alert program here in Western New York, a program that can help locate missing children and adults with Alzheimer's.

If you answer a call, only to hear that a child is missing, you are likely listening to a new nationwide alert system.

If a child or adult goes missing due to dementia, police can alert technicians at "A Child Is Missing" headquarters in Florida. Once the national office gets the call, officials there jump into action.

The area where the child was last seen is pinpointed, and phone numbers from that area are uploaded into the system. It is a recorded message telling people what they're looking for where they were last seen, and what number and agency to call if they have information.

The system is different than "Amber Alert," which is used primarily in abduction cases.

So far, just a few local agencies are signed up, but Tonawanda City Police are hoping to change that.

Police think the service will spread quite a bit, with over 18 agencies and 45 law enforcement and community members. The program, already used around the country is credited for successfully locating hundreds of missing people.

The program is free and won't cost taxpayers a dime. It is funded through grants and donations. The system calls everyone with a listed number, however if you have a cell or unlisted number, you are asked to register. A link to www.achildismissing.org can be found at "News Links" here at wkbw.com