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New program helps those suffering from Alzheimer’s

March 30, 2009
By JOHN PEPIN Journal Munising Bureau

MUNISING - When those suffering from Alzheimer's Disease or other diminished mental capabilities become lost, time is a crucial concern.

But with a new program now operating in Alger County, caregivers, family members and police can have heightened hopes of "Rapid Recovery" of those missing loved ones.

The program, funded through the Alzheimer's Association of Marquette and Alger counties, works through the combined efforts of the Alger Commission on Aging and Alger County Sheriff's deputies.

Article Photos

Rapid Recovery bracelets are attached to the wrist or ankle of those considered potential risks for becoming lost. The bracelets send out signals that can be received by trackers within a two-mile area. (Journal file photo by John Pepin)

A radio transmitter with a specific frequency is attached to the wrist or ankle of clients needing the service. Those clients register for the Rapid Recovery Program through the Alger County Commission on Aging.

If a caregiver reports the client missing, sheriff's deputies trained with tracking equipment respond. The units can be attached to response vehicles, aircraft or can be hand-held.

Sounds emitted from the bracelets can be picked up by the tracking equipment from as far as two miles away on the ground and more than five miles away by helicopter.

"The system has had a very good success rate in Marquette County, as well as nationwide," said Sgt. David Latvala of the Alger County Sheriff's Department. "

The tracking equipment works day or night, indoors or outside, but weather, terrain and other environmental factors can affect the tracking range.

Alger County currently has four deputies trained to use the tracking equipment, with more expected to be trained in the future.

"We have the easy part," Latvala said. "We find the clients with the specialized radio equipment Marquette County Sheriff Mike Lovelace trained us to use."

Kris Lindquist, program organizer with the Alger County Commission on Aging, said that after a client is referred to the program, an explanation of Rapid Recovery is provided to family members and other caregivers.

"A home visit is made to install the bracelet and complete the client profile and take a picture of the client," Lindquist said. "Information is immediately taken to the sheriff's department to be entered into the 9-1-1 system."

Lindquist makes a home visit every 30 days to change batteries in the bracelets. She is also available to address any problems including re-attaching bracelets removed by clients and replacing or repairing equipment.

"If a client is missing for five minutes, 9-1-1 is to be called," Lindquist said. "The Rapid Recovery team jumps into action. The national average time to locate a person is 20 minutes."

Phil Puotinen of the Alzheimer's Association, along with Alger Wraparound committee members, helped get the Rapid Recovery Program started.

The Wraparound committee members and volunteers with the Alger County Commission on Aging hosted a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for the program.

"I am very pleased to be part of the team providing this valuable service to our residents," Lindquist said. "Rapid Recovery will give some needed peace of mind to very worried caregivers."

To make a referral or get more information on the program, call the Alzheimer's Association at 228-3910 or Kris Lindquist at Alger County Commission on Aging, 387-2439.



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