Tracking Alzheimers' patients - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tracking Alzheimers' patients

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August 13, 2003

Colquitt County - Time is of the essence when an Alzheimer's patient disappears. Searches can sometimes go on for days, especially in rural areas. Now, several Georgia counties can turn days of searching into minutes. All you need is a small bracelet and a transmitter.

Let's play a game of hide and seek. Cherie Searcy who's pretending to be an Alzheimer's patient hides from deputies. She finds a good hiding spot inside the old abandoned hospital in Colquitt County.

The hunt is on. Deputy Shawn Bostick walks around the hospital holding a beeping transmitter. He says, "The strongest signal. I came over this way to make sure it wasn't a false reading. So far everything is still accurate. So, I'm going to proceed back here."

Bostick is hot on the trail. Training officer, Charles Dunby, says, "This is the first county in southwest Georgia to place this into operation."

Earlier a Care Trak bracelet was put on Searcy's wrist. Beep, beep, beep. Bostick says after a minute of searching, "I've learned a great deal and I'm real confident with the equipment."

In a normal situation, deputies would start a search pattern around the area where the person was last seen. An antennae goes on the car which can track a person wearing a Care Trak bracelet up to three miles away. The portable transmitter picks up someone who is up to a mile away and equipment can also go in an aircraft to track someone up to eight miles away.

Back to the search for Searcy. Bostick keeps walking and says, "I'm getting a stronger signal this way, I'm going this way." He then goes up some stairs and opens a door. Bingo. Bostick finds Searcy in less than five minutes. Searcy laughs, "I tried to be very quiet so they wouldn't be alerted other than tracking the bracelet."

Searcy helped get this equipment to Colquitt County through the Moultrie Pilot's Club. Deputy Bostick has only been training on it for two days. Good news for those with loved ones with Alzheimer's.

Care Trak is a division of an Illinois based company called Wildlife Industries. Bracelets cost $300, but there are payment plans. For more information you can call Cherie Searcy at ABC Bancorp at 229-890-1111.

posted at 4:50PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com

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