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More people can get tracking bracelets

More wanderers will be found safely thanks to a $20,000 grant.

The city has received the funds from the Ray and Donna Guerin Family Foundation to buy life-saving tracking bracelets.

Interim City Manager Linda Herzog said 20 city residents have the bracelets now and this grant will expand that number plus add more equipment such as radio receivers.

Each unit costs $300, but the city charges only $50 because of the grant, she said.

Two people who wandered off during the recent heat wave were found within 30 minutes because of the bracelets, Herzog said.

The Sequim Police Department's three-year-old Project Lifesaver Program fits people vulnerable to disorientation or wandering, such as Alzheimer's patients, with a bracelet containing a waterproof radio transmitter about the size of a watch.

Then Sequim Police and Clallam County Fire District 3 can use one of their four radio receivers to obtain a "ping" from the transmitter and locate the missing person.

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.

In February, a 90-year-old Sequim man became the first person to be located because of the bracelet. He was located at a church within an hour of walking away from home.

"I can't say enough good things about them," said Police Chief Robert Spinks about the bracelets and the Guerin foundation that made them possible.

"They are absolutely fantastic. The last two people found, honestly, both of them would have been dead without the tracking bracelets."

Spinks said the search for one of those two was delayed by three hours; then another 30 minutes passed before the person was located.

The 80-year-old woman had wandered outside the city and suffered heat stroke in 90-degree temperatures, he said.

"In another hour, she would have been dead."

Spinks said once the person buys the bracelet, volunteers visit regularly to change the batteries and check the other equipment.

The international Project Lifesaver Program came to Sequim in 2006 after a male relative of the Guerins who had dementia wandered away from the QFC grocery store.

Following an extensive search, he was found curled up under bushes behind the store.

The family donated funds from a family foundation to buy four Osprey radio receivers for the Sequim Police Department and Clallam County Fire District 3.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@

sequimgazette.com.

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