On Sunday in New Zealand, Eamon Smith was reported missing by his family about 4.30pm. He was successfully located by neighbours who were aware of the disappearance. This was not the first time Eamon who is autistic had gone wandering.
Both a jet boat and helicopter were used to cover every square foot of the area. Perhaps time, cost and worry could have been reduced using new technologies to track Eamon.
In our continuing series, Autism Daily Newscast looks at the use of technology to quickly locate those with autism who wander.
A day early and half way around the world, a four year old autistic girl in Rochester, New York, was found wearing a Project Lifesaver bracelet and police were immediately contacted.
Project Lifesaver is a national non-profit organization that provides the disabled with tracking devices so they can be found quickly if they wander off or get lost. Project Lifesaver has over 1,200 participating agencies throughout 47 states in the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the last 13 years, Project Lifesaver has performed over 2,700 successful searches with no serious injuries or fatalities ever reported.
The Project Lifesaver is a cost effective program that provides in-depth training for law enforcement and other public safety agencies on the use of the electronic search and rescue equipment, equipment, procedures, as well as certification and support to law enforcement, public safety organizations and community groups throughout the nation. This program also teaches rescuers how to communicate with individuals afflicted with cognitive conditions such as autism.
“It’s a fantastic program,” said Deputy Mike Russell of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office. “I’ve been on several searches in my career that have not ended well. They took several days, not to mention countless man hours and costs where the average locate time with the [Project Lifesaver equipment] is about 23 minutes.”
When first-responders receive a call of a missing person who is in the Project Lifesaver program, they travel to where the person was last seen with the tracking device. The first-responders then walk or drive around until the tracking receiver picks up a signal, leading the searchers right to the missing individual. The receiver is able to pick up signals up to a mile away and the tracking device can even be used from a helicopter.
“It’s very fast and it’s very accurate,” said Deputy Sheriff Steve Albarado, a Project Lifesaver advocate.
In addition, Project Lifesaver develops public outreach programs to educate the public about the issue of wandering. Project Lifesaver constantly works toward developing public policy and effective law enforcement response to help save lives and “bring loved ones home.”
This program can be vital to those with autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome, or other cognitive conditions that may result in wandering or the getting lost of an individual. More can be found out on their web site: www.projectlifesaver.org