More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and nearly 70 percent of them will wander off because of the disease.
With that startling statistic, law enforcement agencies have taken steps to make it easier to track down a missing person. Agencies from across Alabama were in Dale County today to learn about one of these programs.
More than 8 agencies have been learning about the system all week. It is called Project Lifesaver and the program’s mission is just that.
A small tracker on a bracelet is fixed to a person likely to get up and wander away.
CEO Founder Project Lifesaver Intl. Gene Saunders said, “If the person wanders, a caregiver notifies the agency. The trained personnel will respond, tune in the frequency in that particular bracelet, locate the signal and then track to them and bring them back home.”
Project Lifesaver targeted Alzheimer’s patients when it started in 1999. But since then it was apparent to the program’s creator that more people needed the technology.
“1 in 50 children born, primarily boys, will have some degree of autism and one of the idiosyncrasies of autism is bolting and running or eloping or wandering,” he said.
Dale County Sheriff’s Office is just one of nearly 1,300 agencies across the globe that utilizes the bracelet tracking program.
It allows them to track people by foot or in the air up to 12 miles away.
Dale Co. Chief Deputy Tim McDonald said, “This program has been a great asset to our community.”
Dale County jumped on board in the 90’s. They don’t charge people for the 3-hundred dollar bracelet. Seven people have been provided the trackers out of the department’s budget. Loved ones simply have to pay a $10 monthly fee.
Worth every penny in situations like the one in Midland City a few months ago, when a woman with Alzheimer’s wandered away.
“She had fallen down in a briar patch and had a heart attack and she was about a half a mile from her house,” McDonald said.
“Without this program and without this bracelet she wouldn’t more than likely be here today,” he said. That is just one of more than 2,600 rescues using this technique since Project Lifesaver was started.
Training programs like the one I saw today aim to continue those missions accomplished.
Every two years the different agencies with Project Lifesaver are recertified, at workshops like the one held this week.