The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 26, 2012

Lost woman, 88, found after 2 hours

Sheriff: Bracelet can eliminate long searches for lost loved ones

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— The plight of a lost woman prompted Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely to remind residents of a program that could save the lives of their elderly or sick loved ones.

Around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, an 88-year-old woman with symptoms of dementia wandered away from her home on Alabama 127 north of Athens, where she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, the sheriff said Friday.

“She had recently gotten out of the hospital after having major surgery and she had gotten up and wandered out of the house,” Blakely said. “The family called when they noticed she was gone.”

Authorities searched nearly two hours for the woman — even calling in the sheriff’s helicopter as well as search dogs from Limestone Correctional Facility.

“About the time the dogs arrived at 9:20 p.m., she was found about100 yards from the house lying in a hedge row in her pajamas,” the sheriff said.

Law-enforcement and emergency personnel are frequently called to search for lost people. These victims typically have medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism and Down syndrome.

With temperatures turning colder, the risk of injury or death to a lost person increases.

The Sheriff’s Department offers a service proven to bring loved ones home safely. Through Project Life Saver, residents can obtain a bracelet that emits a radio signal that allows law-enforcement personnel to find people quickly using electronic search and rescue equipment.

“With this bracelet, a person could be found in a matter of 30 minutes,” Blakely said.

The cost is $10 per month, which covers the cost of the batteries, which are replaced monthly by the Sheriff’s Department.

The TRIAD organization’s senior advisory council implemented the program.

For more information on Project Life Saver or to obtain a bracelet, call Blakely or Capt. Fred Sloss at the Sheriff’s Department at 256-232-0111.