Although the hurricane season of 2005 was one of the worst on record, 2 storms, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, were particularly devastating to the Gulf Coast region. Among the other tragedies came the news that nearly 5000 children became dislocated from their families as a result of these 2 storms.
Before the hurricanes, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) had systems for locating missing children in place: a 24-hour hotline, a database of missing children, and connections with law enforcement throughout the United States and the world. The success of NCMEC is well documented; they have a recovery rate of 96% in the long-term cases with which they deal. They have become the nation's primary resource to work with law enforcement in the search for missing children. Technology has become the hallmark of searching for missing children. The use of computers, digital images, and the media has led to great improvements in finding these children.
NCMEC had created programs by using retired law enforcement officers to assist in the search for missing children in the many locales where there may not be adequate resources. Project ALERT (America's Law Enforcement Retiree Team) is a program wherein these retired officers assist local police and sheriff's departments who may not have officers fully trained in missing child cases.
A second program sponsored by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation was patterned after the National Transportation Safety Board's Go Team program. When there is a plane crash or other transportation emergency, a specialist from the Go Team is sent directly to the scene to evaluate and assist local officials. Similarly, NCMEC has developed Team Adam, a group of retired law enforcement officers and agents, each of whom is an expert in the field of child abduction and missing children. They are …
Address correspondence to Daniel D. Broughton, MD, FAAP. E-mail: