The South Pasadena Police Department (SPPD) officially announced the launch of Project Lifesaver — an electronic wristband tracking system for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and autism — Wednesday, September 5. The project is an extension of the “Bringing Our Loved Ones Home” initiative, which seeks to prevent and respond to cases of wandering mentally impaired individuals.
The project arrived in South Pasadena nearly a month after the search for Andrew Dart came to an end. Dart, a mentally challenged resident of the city, was initially reported missing in mid-July. The search lasted 22 days before he was eventually located by the SPPD. One impairment of the search was that Dart was believed to be voluntarily missing, so he was not labelled a “critical missing person,” slowing the efforts of the department.
Under this new program, when a caller dials 911 and states that a missing person is a member of Project Lifesaver, the search is immediately treated as an emergency. When a wristband wearers is reported missing, a team from the LA Sheriff’s Department will use specialized receivers to locate the wristband signal. Project Lifesaver hopes to reduce search times significantly with the use of these wristbands.
“This is significant considering there [are] an estimated 37,000 people each month diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and of those, roughly one third will have a propensity to wander, “ South Pasadena Chief of Police Brian Solinsky said.
Project Lifesaver has undergone development in Los Angeles for several months, and South Pasadena is only one of many cities that are beginning partnership under the program. The tracking technology was first used in Glendale in 2015. Of the 15 persons with the wristband that were reported missing in the city that year, all were successfully found.
Each wristband costs around $325, though prices may vary by region. Leasing options are also available through Project Lifesaver. Those interested in applying are encouraged to visit LAFound.com for additional information.
“Having a missing loved one that is at risk of being injured is an experience nobody wants to face,” said Solinsky, “but if we can reduce that fear I consider the program a success.”