UNICOI COUNTY, TN (WJHL) -A local sheriff’s department is launching a program it says is sure to save lives.
Just last year a Sullivan County man with Alzheimer’s wandered from home and was later found dead.
That situation is what the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to prevent with a new tracking program called “Project Lifesaver.”
About 110,000 Tennesseans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s have the added stress of making sure their loved one doesn’t wander off.
“We’ve had several people in our county get out and got lost,” Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said.
“With Alzheimer’s or dementia wandering is a part of the disease and it could happen so quickly,” Tabitha Ebbert with the Alzheimer’s Association said.
According to police reports, in the Tri-Cities region last year hundreds of adults were reported missing.
“The loved one says they want to go home or they want to go back to where they moved from so trying to get out of the house to go do those things,” Ebbert said.
With the new tracking bracelets, “If we have got someone in a home that has wandered out, and we get the call immediately, that’s got the transmitter; I can safely say there’s a good good chance that we are going to find this person,” Hensley said.
“The best advice I can give to families is to be proactive, not wait until the occurrence happens, feel free to contact us anytime,” Ebbert said.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office already uses the tracking system.
Its officers came to train the Unicoi officers free of charge.
“Every sheriff’s department needs something like this,” Hensley said.
The device can also be used for children with autism. At about 250 dollars a bracelet, the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department is hoping to get a total of eight bracelets.
“There’s no question it’s going to save lives,” Hensley said.
He said so far “Project Lifesaver” hasn’t cost the sheriff’s department anything.
Hensley said he is applying for grants to help pay for it. He also said he is hoping the community will step up to help.
If you would like a bracelet for your loved one in Unicoi County or would like to help pay for one you can call the sheriff’s department: 423.743.1864
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