Shawnee, OK - Firelake Discount Foods has implemented a program to help protect children
who wander away from busily-shopping parents.
The grocery store on South Gordon Cooper Drive, owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, is believed to be the first
Native American enterprise, and the only business in the Shawnee area, to adopt the Code Adam Alert program designed
to help recover missing children in retail stores.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children organized the Code Adam program following the 1981 abduction
of Adam Walsh from a Florida department store. The child was later found murdered.
"We want our customers to feel they can safely shop with their children and, if your child becomes separated
from you in our store, please contact an associate so we can immediately initiate a search," store Director
Terry O'Rorke said. "I have three kids myself and it scares the heck out of me to think of losing them."
O'Rorke said the store has not experienced the problem since opening in May, but "our goal is to make sure
it's never a problem, even if it's a child that has just wandered into another aisle."
Firelake employees have been trained to follow several steps during a Code Adam Alert.
- Quickly ask the parent for a detailed description of the child and what the child
is wearing, especially the shoe color and style. Although abductors often change the child's clothing, they do
not usually remove or change the child's shoes.
- The employee is to use the store loudspeaker to announce "Code Adam" and
provide the child's description. All other employees are stationed at each door to ensure no one leaves the store.
Others are instructed to begin looking for child, including in restrooms, store rooms and stairwells.
- Call the police.
- If the child is found and appears to be unharmed, reunite the child and parent. If
the child is found accompanied by someone other than the parent, delay that person's departure and call the police.
Firelake employees will continue to be drilled on the procedure, O'Rorke said.
"I have a 3-year-old who likes to run away, and she's quick," said Carrie Kieffer, Firelake public relations
director. "It's a horrible feeling when you can't see where your child is. Your heart just jumps out of your
With some many nooks and crannies, and six sets of bathrooms, "it's easy for a child to disappear and easy
for them to get lost," O'Rorke said. "Don't think it can't happen in Shawnee. We're not a small town
When a customer reports a missing child to a store employee, a "Code Adam" alert
is announced over the public-address system. A brief description of the child is obtained and provided to all designated
employees who immediately stop their normal work to search for the child, and monitor all exits to help prevent
the child from leaving the store.