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Barnegat Dispatchers Lend Personal Touch to Potentially Life-Saving Program

Resident Charlie Giles offers details on Barnegat's handicapped and disabled alert list and reverse 9-1-1 system – programs he knows firsthand can help vulnerable residents in case of an emergency

Editor's note: Barnegat resident Charles J. Giles is a familiar face to a lot of us in town. He's an active community volunteer, an advocate for many and a proud family man, and he loves spreading the word about the causes he cares about. He's going to be Barnegat Patch's first citizen blogger – part of a that we're launching early next month. But for now, you can read what he has to say in regular column form. If you're interested in blogging, too, email the editor: graelyn.brashear@patch.com.

Hi, everyone.

Periodically, I’ll be writing different stories that affect the great residents of Barnegat Township. I’ll be doing this in a bipartisan way and I hope you enjoy the Eagleman’s Corner.

This week, I have decided to write about something that is very important to me and to my fellow Barnegat residents. On Saturday, April 16, as you all may recall, Barnegat was under a deluge of the severe storm that has been crawling across the country, and we had flooding and power outages. At approximately 11:50 p.m., after I’d gone to bed, I received a very nice phone call from the Barnegat Police Department.

You see, I’m disabled and have life support equipment in my home, as do many other residents. The dispatcher, Chris Burke, was concerned about my safety. He wanted to know if I was flooded in, did I have electricity etc., because parts of Barnegat were facing these issues. I informed him that I did have power, and my equipment was working properly. He then wished me a good night and said he was on to call the next resident on the Township’s Disabled Handicapped List.

I felt safe and was very surprised that this program was really working. I decided to have a sit-down with our Chief of Police, Art Drexler, to learn more about the program so that I can publish it in this forum.

The practice of calling handicapped and disabled residents in the event of weather and other emergencies actually started many years ago on a county level. However, Barnegat has now taken it a step further and made it part of the Townships OEM process, which they are responsible for. The two main coordinators are Capt. Richard Dugan and Lt. Keith Germain. To date, there are approximately only 180 people registered with this assistance program for the elderly and handicapped.

Residents that are eligible to register are those that are disabled in any way, or have any special needs in case of an emergency. Residents on dialysis, oxygen or any other life support are encouraged to enroll in this life-saving program.

Registering is very simple. You can go to www.BarnegatPolice.com look for the link for Special Needs and download it. Once you’ve filled it out, call the Barnegat Police Department on its non-emergency number, 609-698-5000,  and listen for the prompts for Lt. Germain. If you cannot drop off the form at police headquarters, they will send a patrolman to pick up your form and enter you in the database. As Chief Drexler put it, “Participation is key.” I could not agree with him any further. This program can save your life.

I’m part of the Township’s ADA Committee, and all of us are working on ways to also help and assist the Police Department in registering residents.

Another way for residents to keep posted on emergencies within the township and on pertinent township news is the NIXLE Program, which acts as a reverse 9-1-1 email alert system. You can also register for the Nixle Program through the Police Department's website or the township’s website www.Barnegat.net. I have been registered with Nixle since the beginning, and have always been informed of major accidents with road closures, any forest fires, cancellation of Township meetings, and so on.

You can also go to www.nixle.com to register. Just follow the prompts to get to Barnegat Township and choose your personal options. All information is kept strictly confidential for both of these programs. I myself get alerts on my cell phone and to my email address, which is what I recommend to all my fellow Barnegat friends. There is absolutely no cost to any resident for either of these programs. 

I look forward to writing my next Eagleman's Information Corner in two weeks. Thank you, and please stay safe!

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