YCSO looks at GPS system for missing seniors
It's a heart-stopping moment when a family member realizes their loved one who has Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia has wandered away. But the Yuma County Sheriff's Office is looking into a method that will help them and other law enforcement agencies find those lost loved ones faster.
Lt. Darren Simmons said while the Yuma County Sheriff's Office is currently comparing the prices of several different systems, it plans to introduce a GPS tracking system sometime in the near future that will allow them to track a wandering patient quickly.
“I'm still trying to find some funding right now,” Simmons said. “It's about $5,000 to $6,000 to get all the basic software and two bracelets. Additional bracelets cost about $350.”
Simmons explained how the sheriff's office envisions the program working, saying they would sign out a bracelet to a family who has a loved who suffers from a disease that causes memory loss, and the family would pay the monthly activation fee, which is similar to paying a cable bill.
“We would have the tracking system so that if their loved one walked away, all they would need to do is contact us, and we would upload the coordinates and find out exactly where their loved one is at,” Simmons said.
The bracelet, which would be worn by the senior, constantly emits locational data — much like a cell phone — that the sheriff's office will be able to superimpose over a satellite mapping program, if that person is ever reported missing.
“Technology has come along way,” Simmons said. “You can ping them and get a fairly close location, within 60 meters, which is 180 feet. They have to be wearing it and not take it off though.”
Simmons said the sheriff's office keeps a binder of area residents who have wandered off before, which contains updated information and a current photo, so deputies know who it is they are looking for if that person ever goes missing again.
“It also helps because it tells us where we found them last time,” Simmons said. “Around here you can wander out in to the desert so quick. It's hard to find anybody out there. It's like trying to find a needle in the haystack.”
Recently, an 82-year-old Wellton man wandered off from his home before he was found by Wellton BORSTAR agents following a seven-hour search.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.