Rob Bross

Rob Bross

MONTICELLO – Two recent missing person searches in Piatt County will help local official prepare for similar incidents in the future.

Piatt County EMA Director Rob Bross said officials held a debriefing in mid-January after the successful search for a missing Monticello teen on Jan. 6. The 18-year-old, who is autistic, was found along the banks of the Sangamon River by a search plane.

“Roughly within four hours, give or take, we were able to find him and get him checked out,” Bross told the EMA Committee last Wednesday. “In the beginning, we had to deal with who is in charge and who is going to do what. Once we got that down and we had a command center set up, we started getting information out to the public.”

The teen disappeared in the early afternoon on a Friday, Bross said.

“We wanted to get the information out because there were a lot of people leaving work at that time and if they see him, they can report it,” Bross said.

Bross said officials learned that they need newer and bigger laminated maps in such instances.

“We were on Plan B with the air operations from the state police and our next step was to get some volunteers and literally go door to door and check every shed and garage,” he said. “If and when we do that, it would be nice to have a central area with big maps and it is nice to have those available.”

Help may be coming from the Piatt County 911 agency who will be able to donate some maps in the coming weeks.

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Several agencies were involved in the search, including the Cisco and Mid-Piatt fire protection districts and Monticello Fire Department, the city of Monticello, state police, Kirby Ambulance and the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities also thanked Monticello Church of Christ and Calvary Baptist Church for allowing responders to use their facilities as command posts.

“Overall, it went pretty well,” Bross said. “We found him before dark and that was very important.”

Another search – for a 20-year-old Atwood woman during the last week of December – ended tragically after searchers found her body in a field. Neither one of them had cell phones at the time.

“Many times, if you don’t want to be found, they leave their cell phones behind,” Bross said, “because we can sometimes locate them with that. It takes some work and some different agencies involved, but it can help.”

Alert system

Bross said he will bring forward more information soon on a county-wide alert system. The current system – Hyper Reach – is not being used and Bross says there are other options which are less expensive that can be used.

“If we get it, we are going to use it,” he said. “It would have been perfect to use in the searches for the missing people or in the case of a boil order. We will use it for massive alerts and such.”