Project Lifesaver

Technology as a Safety Intervention

Wandering and elopements are dangerous for residents with dementia. Fox8 reported on new technology to help protect residents with dementia who wander. Supervision and safe staffing are the best safety interventions but technology can help save lives.

For example, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office uses technology to find missing people. Captain Doug Hunter said:

“It’s a radio transmitter that the person wears around their wrist or around their ankle, and every second, it emits a tone that is not able to be heard by the human ear, but it’s a radio frequency chirp and we use a special receiver to hone in on the device. As we get closer to the individual, that frequency on the receiver gets stronger.”

The small radio transmitter worn by the people it aims to protect has a one-time cost of $325.  Law enforcement found over 4,000 people using the technology. It takes the guess work out of searching. Captain Hunter agrees:

“Usually you’re just basically wandering around in hopes of stumbling across the missing person. This takes it out of the hope factor and puts the technology into play. It does not encroach on the person’s privacy. It only comes into play when the caregiver contacts us and states that the at-risk person has gone missing. At that point, we will respond to the scene, use the device to track the person.”

Project Lifesaver

A nonprofit organization called Project Lifesaver offers the technology. Project Lifesaver was created in 1999. The mission of Project Lifesaver is to save lives with timely response.

Project Lifesaver is the premier search and rescue program operated internationally by public safety agencies. The quick response is the key. Project Lifesaver’s average recovery time of 30 minutes. This is critical and quite impressive.

The technology will help “at risk” individuals with unsafe wandering behaviors. Most facilities have at risk residents. Technology will save lives. Every long term care facility should use this technology.