WESTPORT, Conn. – A missing child might be a parent's worst nightmare, but thanks to Joe Grugel, it's less likely to happen.
Grugel, an investment counselor with David Lerner Associates Inc. in Westport, helped organize an Amber Alert Registration Day through his involvement with the Rotary Club of Danbury. The group set up a booth at the health and wellness fair at Rogers Park in November, offering free photo Amber Alert cards to participants.
"If your child goes missing, it becomes a panic situation," Grugel said. "You might not remember all the personal information authorities need, or be able to find a suitable photo right away. That delays the start of the search process."
When a child is registered, his or her photo is taken and uploaded to the national Amber Alert database, along with all the pertinent personal identifying information such as age, height and weight. The parents receive a card with the photo and a unique ID number.
"If their child becomes missing, they show that number to the authorities and the alert is issued immediately," said Grugel. "It's all computerized and automatic. The sooner you can get the information out, the better." Some personal data, such as last name, address and phone number, is blocked and accessed only when the child is found.
At the November fair, Grugel and his group issued more than 100 cards the first time they set up. "We'd like to do even more in the future," he said. "But just getting one child registered is a success. Hopefully, it's something no parent ever has to use, but it's there if they do."