Never Alone registry seeks to bring citizens 'Safely Back Home'
As part of its Never Alone program, the Redlands Police Department is using newly available computer and GPS technology to help families of those with Alzheimer’s disease or other special needs who frequently wander away from home.
In 2006, Redlands Police responded to more than 130 reports of missing adults, roughly once every three days. At least one-quarter of those are immediately considered “critical missing persons” as a result of mental or medical conditions. Many of them suffer from “wandering syndrome” as a result of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other medical or mental conditions.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander sometime during the progression of the disease. If they are not found within 24 hours, half of those could suffer serious injury or death.
When every minute is precious, it is often difficult to ascertain vital information from frantic family members or other caregivers.
The Redlands Police Department’s Never Alone: Safely Back Home registry will allow police to gather information along with a photograph prior to the critical need and store it in a data base easily accessed by police officers in the field.
When caregivers register, they will also be provided with material and lists of local resources to help them better safeguard their loved ones.
The Redlands Police Department is also exploring the feasibility of using GPS technology, similar to that currently in use in many cell phones and vehicles, to quickly locate individuals who are prone to “wandering syndrome.”
The Police Department has already begun trials using GPS technology with two individuals with a history of wandering from their homes.
Never Alone: Safely Back Home is yet another example of the Redlands Police Department using available technology to leverage its resources. Currently, when police receive a report of a “critically missing person,” all available resources, including patrol teams, specialized units, detectives, Sheriff’s helicopter and volunteers, are dedicated to the search, often for hours until the individual is located.
The use of the registry information and GPS technology can significantly reduce the manpower required for a search. More importantly, the program is designed to cut down the vital time it takes to locate missing persons with critical medical or other needs.
The Redlands Police Department is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to ensure enrollment in their national Safe Return® program, extending the expected positive outcomes of Never Alone: Safely Back Home beyond our city boundaries. While the Alzheimer’s Association does not currently support a specific monitoring technology, they are interested in the RPD’s evaluation effort, and the department is working within the guidelines set forth by their ethics advisory panel. The Alzheimer’s Association has offered knowledge, reference materials, and training for department personnel in support of the overall effort.
As part of its efforts, the Police Department is also forming a Special Needs Advisory Committee to determine how best to serve the community.
If you are interested in serving on the committee or in registering a loved one in the Never Alone: Safely Back Home program, contact the Redlands Police Department at (909) 798-7617.