A message from MCPD Project Lifesaver Coordinator, Officer Laurie Reyes . . .
In 2005, I began the Project Lifesaver Program out of a personal interest in helping those with Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and related disorders.
Project Lifesaver is offered entirely free of cost to caretakers and participants. Caregivers are provided with information and tools to prevent episodes of wandering. If necessary, the wandering individual may be outfitted with a personalized bracelet. The bracelet is a one-ounce battery operated radio wrist transmitter that emits a unique automatic tracking signal every second, 24 hours a day. If the participant wanders, loved ones call 911. Officers who have been trained in the Project Lifesaver System then use radio frequency tracking equipment to locate the participant.
Caregivers of loved ones who wander have a huge responsibility. I have come up with some tips for caregivers of those with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Autism:
- Make every effort to make it difficult for your loved one to wander. Install an alarm if possible.
- Caregivers can reach out to their neighbors. Examples of neighbor letters can be found on the Project Lifesaver website.
- Make sure the person has identification on them at all times.
- Take a full-length photo and head-shot of your loved one. Store the photos electronically so that if the person wanders, the photos can be sent to law enforcement quickly.
- Call 911 immediately if your loved one has wandered so that police can respond.
- As summer approaches, I want to address the fact that people with Autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes, and may gravitate towards bodies of water when they wander. Drowning is the number one cause of premature death for individuals with Autism. For caregivers of children with Autism, teaching your child to swim early could absolutely save their life! Also, knowing where bodies of water (lakes, pools, etc.) are in your neighborhood is important.