Last Saturday, Terry Brannigan’s father Robert — who suffers from dementia — disappeared. It was a harrowing day for the longtime Westport family.
Terry contacted the Westport Police, and “06880.” Fortunately — hours later — his dad was found. Terry recounts that day, and thanks his community:
I wanted to reach out to everyone who helped with the events of last Saturday on behalf of my family — in particular the “06880” nation.
This is a case of the system working exactly as it should, and friends acting exactly as they should. When we first got the call from my mother, the family simply hopped into our cars and began searching.
While that took place, my sister and I continued to enlist people to look for my dad, and sent family to be with my mother. After 4 hours I called “06880.” Ten minutes later there was my father’s photo on the site, and we began to get our first calls from friends. No one had seen my father, but they wanted to know we were in their thoughts.
I drove toward Fairfield, and on the Post Road flagged a Fairfield cop who could tell I was upset. He tried to keep me calm and immediately enlisted his department. After another hour, my sister Kathleen and I re-engaged with the Westport Police. It was getting dark, and we thought of the worst.
The Westport PD dispatched a cruiser to meet us in the parking lot of Home Goods to gather information to issue a full Silver Alert. To my relief, Tommy Casimiro pulled in. Tommy is exactly the person you want in an emergency: intelligent, thoughtful and clearly capable. He walked me through the required information, then followed me home to collect photographs. Tommy provided me with his private contact numbers, and texted me throughout the night.
I am not sure what time the Red Alert call went out, but concerned friends began to check in with my mother. I am very glad my father’s name was provided in the alert. My neighbor came over to watch the kids, followed immediately by my sister-in-law. My father was clearly in everyone’s thoughts. The manager of the Norwalk Costco even sent an employee out to check the parking lot.
By 9:30, after driving the same routes over and over and calling all the hospitals, it was clear that our place was with my mother. My dad had been missing more than 10 hours with no money or ID, so we braced for very bad news.
Miraculously at 10:30, the telephone rang. My wife said, “You got him?!” She handed the phone to me. To my shock, someone from the Fort Dix military police in New Jersey said they had found my father. He was safe, and in the hospital.
A Silver Alert is akin to an Amber Alert — but for older people. The MPs had received a call of an unidentified car on the base. When they found my father — confused, dehydrated and suffering from a minor medical emergency — they immediately discovered his Silver Alert. They started the process of getting him back home. A 2nd Red Alert went out to Westport, saying he’d been found. My sister and I were back in the car — this time relieved and on our way to New Jersey.
There’s a lot of community in our community, when you look for it. We did not get home until early the next day. I had to be at a PAL football jamboree, but as soon as I got there I was surrounded by friends offering help and sharing their relief. It was great. The same thing has been happening ever since.
On behalf of the Brannigan family, we want everyone to know how thankful we are — and to know that the process works.