Meet Helen Ezell
Helen Ezell has a deep understanding of the elopement concerns of parents of special needs children. As the mother of four amazing special needs sons – three diagnosed with Autism, two profoundly so – Helen lives with worries about her children every day.
“My sons are the ruling force in my life and Roo, my third eldest recently tried to elope multiple times in one week. I feared for his life. I awoke to find our kitchen windows wide open, my heart at that point almost fell apart with fear. I checked his room and he was in bed asleep but it was enough of a scare for me to research and find a device that would help keep my son safe. I could not live with this fear anymore.”
In Helen’s search for a solution, she brought a great deal of experience into her decision making process. A behavioral health nurse, Helen belongs to three Search and Rescue Teams (SAR): Emerald Coast SAR, Bay County Sheriff’s Office SAR and Escambia SAR. She works closely with local law enforcement and has trained them in a two and a half hour autism class on safety, search and rescue techniques, and how to best bring a child with autism home safely if they become lost or elope.
Her unit has specifically trained their K9s to search and find special needs children by using her own sons in the demonstration. Helen has designed K9 vest visuals and autism team equipment to aid communication when finding the lost special needs child. Recently, a local news crew caught up with Helen and her work with K9s. Watch Helen Interview on Channel 13, here and here.
“I designed a unique database, ARRT – Autism Rapid Response Team Database (which an autistic friend then built) to record every single special needs child’s crucial information and their picture in case of a live search – as every second counts when a child is lost and this database would only be available to SAR and Law Enforcement. By having ARRT go global we could ensure we save many, many special children’s lives.”
Helen is also a K9 Handler in search and rescue – SAR K9 Maggie live with the family and provides another line of protection and defense for her sons as she’s a natural around special needs children. But K9 Maggie isn’t allowed on Roo’s school bus or his classroom to protect him.
Helen Ezell was well-prepared to make her search for a safety solution a good one. Armed with her first hand knowledge, Helen went into the marketplace to see what available. She tried multiple GPS devices over time, but was extremely disappointed in their lack of capabilities and how clumsy or heavy they were. The design was simply not suitable for children with sensory and textural issues such as many autistic children are. It was then Helen found AngelSense.
“My life has changed totally since Doron immediately helped me protect Roo. Now at some point, I may need the guardian device – as I call it – for all of them but for now Roo was the one who most needed a Guardian Angel and I found exactly that with AngelSense.”
“Since Roo has started wearing his Angel Sense Guardian daily on the bus and at school I feel the years of many of my fears falling away. I sadly know first hand on search and rescue missions how a missing child with autism is typically found and I use Angel Sense to up my odds of not becoming a grieving parent of a special needs child who wandered and wasn’t located in time.”
Helen and her husband Joe – member of the Emerald Coast SAR team – have such faith in AngelSense, they recently helped raise money to purchase the devices for several families in their community who have children with special needs.
Helen’s advice to parents is two-fold. In addition to a personal GPS device, have the right materials ready for law enforcement and SAR teams so they can move quickly in case of an emergency.
- Keep a scent article bagged, dated (a dirty sock works great or a dirty favorite hat) and sealed at all times for K9’s to use as a scent article
- Up to date photographs of your child’s shoes and what the sole print looks like exactly. This enables SAR to scent the K9 to track the right sole print while also noting/ruling out other shoe prints.
As for Helen’s Big Picture dream? “Get an AngelSense Guardian on special needs children globally and also on adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s as these beloved family members need the Guardian’s protection too.”
We’d like to thank Helen Ezell for sharing her experience and expertise! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.