Mass. State Police Have New Tool to Aid in Missing Person Searches
A symptom of cognitive disorders such as Autism or Alzheimer's disease can sometimes be wandering. The Massachusetts State Police has new technology in place to help find those who become lost, faster. New England Public Radio's Adam Frenier reports.
A person who subscribes to the Safety Net system through a private provider wears a bracelet, which sends out a signal on a radio frequency. If they become lost in a large outdoor area, a State Police search team can use a special receiver to set to the frequency of the bracelet, to help locate the missing person. State Police Helicopters are also outfitted with the receiver to aid in searches. Lieutenant Michael Leverone is the Commander of the State Police Special Emergency Response Team. He says during a search for a missing person, time is of the essence.
"The more time that they have to wander, the greater chance they're going to find themselves in a life-threatening situation, which often happens, especially with folks with Alzheimer's. They'll often become bogged down in a swamp or maybe in frigid conditions and the peril there is enormous. This system will hopefully allow us to locate them much more quickly and save lives".
Susan Loring is the director of the Autism Resource Center of Central Massachusetts. She says children with Autism are especially susceptible to wandering.
"There is a higher instance of wandering behaviors in children who have Autism Spectrum disorders. In 2007, the National Autism Association did a poll and about 92 percent of the parents who responded, indicated that their child had wandered in the past. Having a child with Autism, my son is 27, I know from personal experience the panic, the absolute stress that you feel when a child wanders off".
This is the first time the service has been available in Western Massachusetts. While the bracelets are available for a fee, financial assistance through a number of organizations is available to people who can't afford them. For New England Public Radio, I'm Adam Frenier.