Operation Take Me Home
Electronic Search Program Protects Wandering Patients and Gives Peace of Mind to Caregivers, Families, and Communities
Over 5,000 people in the USA have Alzheimer’s and that number will triple by 2050. One out of every 59 children are diagnosed with Autism and the numbers are increasing. Well over 50% of these people wander and become lost. A lost person with special needs represents a critical emergency as nearly half of them can vecome injured or fall victim to predators if they are not located within 24 hours. The number of people, families and communities experiencing this risk will grow dramatically in this decade.
If you are not yet touched in some way by Alzheimer’s, Autism, Down Syndrome or other dementia, chanves are you will be within the next serveral years. You will find it among nieghbors, your friends, co-workers and their families, and perhaps within your own fmaily.
How It Works
An active system relies on state-of-the-art technology and a specially trained search and rescue team. People who are part of the program wear a personalized bracelet that emits a tracking signal. When caregivers notify the local agency that the person is missing, a search and rescue team responds to the wanderer;s area and starts searching with the mobile locater tracking system. Search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. In hundreds of searches, there have been no reported serious injuries or deaths. Recovery times average less than 30 minutes.
It is a one-ounce battery-operated radio wrist transmitter emitting an automatic tracking signal every second, 24 hours a day. The signal is tracked on the ground or in the air over several miles. As each bracelet has a unique radio frequency, the search team positively located and identifies the person who has wandered away from home or a care facility.
Technology is Only Half the Story
Members of the team are specially trained including local law enforcement agencies, not only in use of the electronic tracking equipment, but also especially in the methods to communicate with a person who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder. Locating the individual is only part of the mission. The person who is located will be disoriented, anxious and untrusting. The specialized team know how to approach the person, gain their trust and put them at ease for the trip back home.
Educational and community awareness programs have been a cornerstone to the program’s success. Team members are also active in presenting information to civic groups, law enforcement agencies and various healthcare providers throughout their communities.
Success Stories of Programs Similar to Our Own “Operation Take Me Home”
In Pittsylvania County, Virginia, a 45 year-old man suffering from a traumatic brain injury became lost and disoriented. A deputy sheriff specially trained by Project Lifesaver used a special trakcing receiver and was able to locate the man 1.5 miles from his home within 20 minutes. A traditional search without the Care Trak system would have normally involved the time (and expense to the taxpayers) of up to 264 searchers and 924 man hours without the special tracking system.
In Chatham, Virginia, an 80 year-old woman with Alzheimer’s disease wandered from her home at night. The family contacted Project Lifesaver upon learning she was missing. Two Sheriff’s vehicles equipped with Care Trak Emergency Responder Units arrived on the scene and within a short time located the woman lying in a tobacco field. She had wandered into the field, had fell, and could not get up. She was found covered with mud. Rescuers reported that a person was lying thre. The woman was helpless and could have died if not located.
A 79 year-old man with Alzheimer’s left his house in Virginia Beach driving his truck. He became lost and could not find his way back home. After searching the neighborhood, a police helicopter was called in with a Project Lifesaver team member and Care Trak equipment. In just 35 minutes, the helicopter located the man using the signal transmitted from his Care Trak bracelet. He was found 14 miles from his home. Before he became part of Project Lifesaver, he wandered off and was missing for 2 1/2 days.