Wristbands Help Locate Wandering Patients

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Gila County Sheriff John Armer is considering implementing a new program that will help caregivers of people suffering from autism or Alzheimer's who wander off and become lost.

Gila County Sheriff's Sgt. Terry Hudgens said the program, called Project Lifesaver, will use radio direction finding equipment in the form of a bracelet that can be worn on the wrist.

"The people wear a wristwatch-size bracelet which transmits a continuous radio signal," Hudgens said.

"If we implement the program, it will only cost caregivers a small monthly maintenance fee for batteries and the wristbands that are replaced each month."

The sheriff's office is asking those who are interested in participating in the program to contact the Payson office.

"We need to know how many bracelets we need," Hudgens said.

Funding for the project comes from grants and donations.

According to Hudgens, more than 100 residents of northern Gila County are afflicted with Alzheimer's and are prone to wandering.

The sheriff's office and Tonto Rim Search and Rescue receive many calls a year to find Alzheimer's patients who wander off. The use of the wristband will shorten search time to an average of 30 minutes, Hudgens said.

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