By Taylor Boyd
The Patrick County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a grant of $6,000 by The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) to expand its Project Lifesaver Program.
The grant will be split into two portions with the first portion being used to purchase four more locating and tracking technology, bands, and batteries. It will also send four officers to training on the program, who will then return and train other officers.
Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said the program helps save lives, and the grant “will allow us to continue to save protect those who are unable to protect themselves.”
Sally Smith, of the Patrick County Alzheimer’s Group LLC, which partners with the sheriff’s office on the program, said the locating and tracking technology is either a small wrist or ankle monitor provided to Patrick County families who have loved ones with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or autistic children.
“You put the bracelet on the patients, and there’s a transmitter that’s kept at the sheriff’s office. If you lost your loved one, and they have that bracelet on, that transmitter will pick up where that patient is, and it will take you to where the patient is at,” she said.
Sally Smith said the efficiency of the technology is very important as it ensures that patients are not gone a long time.
“Most of your Alzheimer’s patients are diabetics, or they’re on mediation that they’ve got to have at a certain time. The bracelets allow you to be able to find them before it’s too late,” she said.
Dan Smith added the technology has been used to find about a dozen people who have wandered off throughout the years.
It is estimated that the grant will allow Dan Smith’s office to serve an additional 20 families.
Sally Smith said using the technology also comes at no cost to the families.
Currently, fewer than 15 local families are utilizing the locating technology. The newly bought technology has yet to be used on patients.
“In Henry County they pay $29 a person for that bracelet, but because we buy the bracelets and Dan (Smith) does it free, he furnishes the help. It costs the people of Patrick County nothing to get these bracelets,” she said, adding the Wander Bracelets cost around $340 each.
For more information or to inquire about getting a bracelet for a loved one, contact the Sheriff’s Office at 276-694-3161 and ask for Deputy Bob Pittis, who has been in charge on the program for more than 10 years, or call the Patrick County Alzheimer’s Group LLC at 693-2089.
Donations to support the program can be sent to the Patrick County Alzheimer’s Group LLC at P.O. Box 1301, Stuart, Va., 24171.