Bracelet helps Sequim Police find walkaway

A 90-year-old Sequim man has become the first person to be located using the Sequim Police Department's Project Lifesaver Program.

He was located within an hour of walking away from home on Feb. 10, thanks to the three-year-old program that fits vulnerable people such as Alzheimer's patients with a bracelet containing a radio transmitter.

When his family notified 9-1-1 of the man's disappearance,

Sequim Police and Clallam County Fire District 3 used one of their four radio receivers to obtain a "ping" from the transmitter and locate him at a church.

Project Lifesaver is an international program that helps searchers quickly locate people with medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, autism and Down syndrome that cause disorientation or wandering.

People pay a $50 nonrefundable fee to enroll in the program. Then they wear a bracelet with a waterproof radio transmitter about the size of a watch.

The transmitter emits a unique radio frequency that can be detected by radio receivers up to a mile away using handheld and vehicle-mounted antennas. The receiver also can be tracked by helicopter.

Both the Sequim Police Department and Clallam County Fire District 3 have personnel trained as "electronic search specialists."

The international program came to Sequim in 2006 after a man with dementia wandered away from the QFC grocery store. Following an extensive search, he was found curled up under bushes behind the store.

The lost man's family used funds from a family foundation to buy four Osprey radio receivers for the police department and fire district.

Brian Gawley can be reached at bgawley@sequim

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