Merrimack Police are urging residents to register for their various alert systems after their Nixle text and email alerts have successfully brought three missing people home in the last seven days.
On Tuesday, the parents of two 7-year-old girls reported them missing to police at 3:58 p.m. The girls had been seen playing in the yard at 111 Baboosoc Lake Road approximately 30 to 45 minutes before their parents called police.
The parents told police they'd searched the area but hadn't found the girls. Officers also conducted a quick search of the property and checked with nearby neighbors to no avail.
"Due to the onset of darkness, the Merrimack Fire Department was notified along with State Police K-9 units to assist in the search," Lt. Dean KillKelley said in a press released issued Tuesday night. "Police activated the A Child Is Missing phone alert program along with the Nixle mobile phone and e-mail alerts, notifying residents of the missing girls."
The Nixle alert, sent at 4:29 p.m. informed residents that two little girls, Julia and Molly, were missing and had last been seen around 3:45 p.m. Julia was described as 53 inches tall with brown hair, wearing black pants, a pink jacket with a blue and white top. Molly was described as 56 inches tall, also with brown hair, wearing leggings, and a pink, white and blue jacket with peace symbols.
Within minutes of sending the alerts, police dispatch received three phone calls from Tanglewood Way residents who said they'd read the Nixle alert and had seen the girls in the woods on their road.
Police were able to located the girls and reunite them with their parents at 4:45 p.m., just 16 minutes after notifying the public, KillKelley said. Tanglewood Way is less than a quarter mile along the roads from 111 Baboosic Lake Road, however it is also separated by a small patch of woodland behind the home where the girls had last been seen.
Last Friday morning, police used the same alert systems to notify residents of a missing 87-year-old, memory-impaired man who'd wandered away from his 229 Daniel Webster Highway home sometime around 4 a.m.
Police sent the alert at 8:56 a.m. and minutes later received a call from a woman who said she'd seen the man, Robert Higgins, in the parking garage at Fidelity Investments. Higgins was confirmed found at 9:14 a.m.
"Utilizing the notification services assisted the Merrimack Police in locating the missing resident in just under an hour," Lt. Paul Trepaney said on Friday.
Police urge residents to connect themselves to these services, which are also used in other types of emergencies that require quick notification of the public.
Nixle has been used by the police and fire departments over the last several months to inform the public of complications from water main breaks, road closures following accidents and it was used heavily to spread important information during Tropical Storm Irene and Snowtober.
Merrimack Police are urging people to sign up for these services at www.nixle.com and www.achildismissing.org. Nixle also has a free app on iTunes. Further, up-to-the-minute information is available on the Merrimack Police Department's Facebook and Twitter accounts.