September 25, 2007 By Chandler Harris
When 89-year-old Cruz Fierro wandered the streets of El Paso, Texas, in May 2006, after his release from the Beaumont Medical Center, residents didn't know the elderly man was disoriented and suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Very few people knew he was missing until several days later, when Fierro was found dead and local media reported the story.
This tragic event made Texas Rep. Joe Pickett and the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature - a nonprofit group that encourages senior citizens to get involved in the legislative process - question why an alert system wasn't in place to notify the public of missing elderly people, especially in central Texas, which has one of the highest elderly populations in the country.
"Had there been some notification system in place, it may have been possible to save him" Pickett said.
This was especially troubling to policy-makers since the Amber (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert system originated in Texas. Amber Alert notifies media and law enforcement agencies when children go missing and broadcasts messages across roadway signs to inform the public.
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