Program aims to protect wanderersBayfield County is taking on a new program designed to help locate people who wander and become lost due to cognitive disease.
By: By Kristen Vake/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Bayfield County is taking on a new program designed to help locate people who wander and become lost due to cognitive disease.
The wooded and rural area of Bayfield County is beautiful in nature but it can also be an easy place to lose your way. Bayfield County Sheriff Paul Susienka says he recalls a case where an elderly woman lost her way.
“It’s really easy for people to become lost. We had one case in particular where an elderly woman has gotten lost a couple times, has walked away from home. Fortunately has been found but that isn’t always the case. The sooner you can find a person who wanders off the better.”
This is one of the reasons Bayfield County is joining the program Project Lifesaver. It is an international program whose mission is to provide rapid response to save lives and reduce serious injury. They focus on adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome, dementia and other cognitive conditions.
As of now, the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office has enough equipment for five people to wear the bracelet transmitter but Susienka says they have the funding for more bracelets.
Although this isn’t something that happens often in the Bayfield County, when it does happen they want to be prepared.
“It’s just so critical that when persons become lost, particularly Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients, to find these folks very quickly can mean the difference between life and death. A lot of these folks are not in particularly good health as it is and just cannot afford to be out in the elements for a very long period of time. It’s a safety issue; we really feel strongly that we want to locate missing people very quickly before anything tragically happens to them.”
Although the system is reliable and has had success in the past, Susienka wants to make sure people realize it is not fool proof.
“It’s really important that people are pretty closely monitored even if they are wearing the transponder and are enrolled in the system because we like to begin the search before the person gets too far away because if they’re many miles away that signal isn’t going to be easy to receive. This is a tool that has documented a lot of successes and I think we owe it to our public to use every resource available to us too bring what could be tragic events to positive conclusions.”
So far, one elderly person is wearing a bracelet in this new system.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.