FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputies have new technology that could help track and find people who wander away from their caregivers.
Dubbed “Project Lifesaver,” a bracelet device is worn at all times by program participants. If a caregiver notices that the person is missing, they contact authorities, who will launch this mobile tracking system. The average time for a person to be located once law enforcement is notified, is between 20 to 30 minutes — 95 percent less than a standard missing person search.
“Unfortunately, people suffering from dementia have walked away from their homes,” Sheriff Ted Paxton said. “Law enforcement was notified and searched diligently and done everything in their power, but we’re not able to find them.”
With this new technology, deputies have a powerful tool.
So far, 31 deputies have been trained on how to use the transmitting system to locate a person wearing the wristband.
The program is open to adults and children who have the potential to wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome, dementia or other cognitive-related condition.
This reporter was chosen to participate in a demonstration of the new program. Other media dubbed this operation “Where’s Aldo?”
Deputy Kevin Ferrero and I demonstrated. I held the transmitter and wandered into the Frisbee golf trails at Central Park.
Deputies Sgt. Allan J. Frampton and Doug Rainwater drove away from the park, so they would not see the location Ferrero and I traveled.
After a ten minute head start, the deputies and media began their search.
The Project Lifesaver system consists of a short-range transmitter and a directional receiver. The transmitter, like the one I wore, emits a chirping sound to law enforcement. The receiver indicates signal strength, which increases as deputies get closer to the transmitter.
About 22 minutes later, the deputies located me hanging out with Ferrero at one of the Frisbee golf basket and out-of-sight.
The sheriff’s office has bought 25 wristbands — $300 per wristband — with $5,000 seizure fund grant money.
“We realize the demand for these wristbands may exceed the number that we have and can afford,” said Paxton. “We are looking to partner with local businesses to offset the cost of maintaining this program.”
Participants will have to be interviewed to see if they fit the program’s criteria, Paxton said.
For more information or to register someone, contact Sgt. Allan Frampton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-513-5982.