News Article Details

Project Lifesaver devices still available

Glasgow Daily Times - 12/23/2017

Dec. 23--GLASGOW -- Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management still has more than two dozen Project Lifesaver locator devices available for families with members who may have a tendency to wander away or easily get confused or lost due to a disorder or illness, such as autism or forms of dementia.

The local agency was able to obtain grant funding to purchase the devices, which are attached to plastic bands that can be worn as bracelets or anklets about the size of a wrist watch, more than four and a half years ago, but it currently only has two people using them, said director Tracy Shirley.

The patients incur no cost to use them.

The devices do not use GPS to track the individual; rather, they transmit a radio signal at a certain frequency, and trained emergency responders use radio receivers to triangulate the wanderer's position from the last known location, so the time between their disappearance and reporting it is critical.

The Glasgow Daily Times reported when people could first start signing up for the program and initiated a followup to see whether it was still in use.

At one time, Shirley said, several more of the bracelets were in use by the Glasgow State Nursing Facility, particularly for new patients who were getting adjusted to being there, but then they learned from state officials they couldn't use them.

Shirley said he knows of at least one individual, from before he became the emergency management director in 2015, who wandered a couple of times and was found within 30 minutes each time using the system. He said the national average is around that half-hour timeframe.

"Part of that's attributed to the training the caregivers are given to notify us immediately when they realize [the person] is missing," he said, "because we have to be within such close range."

He said the handheld receivers they use pick up within about half a mile, but using one in a vehicle can extend the range to roughly two miles.

"We don't need them to get too much of a head start on us," Shirley said.

He said he's glad, on the one hand, that only two may be needed, but he also wants to do what he can to ensure that anyone who needs one has it, so he's distributed some brochures and done some public service announcements. He said he has also notified the ambulance service, because the personnel there may be familiar with patients who could use it.

"My hope is that it's because we have a low number of people who need it," he said of the low utilization, but "we want as many people who need it to use it."

The devices themselves cost about $350 each, and that was covered through the grant funding.

The battery and wristband, which are replaced every month, are about $2 per month, Shirley said, and his budget covers that. Emergency management personnel go to the patient each month and check to make sure the device is working and still waterproof, etc., when it's time to replace the band and battery, he said.

"It's pretty convenient for the family and patient," Shirley said.

Barren County has three receivers, but if more were needed, Metcalfe and Warren counties also have some that could be added, he said, just as Barren County would lend its receivers to them if necessary.

About a dozen people have undergone the training in the past couple of years and are up to date with it. He said a training is conducted annually, but each person is required to have it every two years.

The receivers are kept at a central location that can be accessed by multiple trained individuals in the event they are needed and Shirley, for example, is out of town or otherwise unavailable, he said.

He noted that not everyone with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, for example, would need one, just those with a tendency to wander.

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(c)2017 the Glasgow Daily Times (Glasgow, Ky.)

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