MUNHALL (KDKA) – We report it often where an elderly person with dementia wanders off of a child with mental disabilities goes missing.
Now, one local police department is equipped to help those people in record time.
The Munhall Police Department is the first in Allegheny County to receive the Project Lifesaver Program training, which helps track down frequent wanderers.
Police are let KDKA-TV’s Heather Abraham try it out to test for accuracy.
Abraham was given a five-minute head start while wearing a tracking bracelet that emits radio transmissions.
Back at the station, Munhall Police gathered mobile locators and hit the streets.
“What it does, it picks up a specific frequency. Each bracelet is designed on the 260 megahertz and then the last three digits that go with that are bracelet specific,” Munhall Police Officer James Williams said.
The first time they found Abraham in five minutes. When they tried again, it was just under four.
For our purposes, it was like a fun game of hide-and-seek, but police know this will be a great resource during an emergency situation.
“There have been over 2,000 searches nationwide and all of the searches have ended in finding the individuals alive. And the national recovery time is 30 minutes or less,” Cathy Ash of Project Lifesaver said.
Officer Williams is the one who actually applied for the grant to get the first system in Allegheny County.
“My little boy Tyler has some special needs issues and me and my wife came across this one day,” Officer Williams said.
They’re used on elderly with dementia to children with special needs to some that have suffered traumatic brain injuries. The bracelets, try as you might, are just about guaranteed to not come off.
“We’ve had people go missing in the past. We’ve had negative results in finding them. So, the hope is that we can get people enrolled in this program that need it and if they do go missing, we’ll be able to provide a timely response,” Officer Williams said.\