A recent purchase by the Branson Police Department is designed to find someone quickly if they wander off.
The $10,000 purchase included seven "tracker" bracelets or transmitters, two receivers and training for officers.
It’s part of Project Lifesaver International, a program that offers free tracking devices to families with at risk individuals. "People who generally have a difficulty wandering or those with cognitive conditions, those that have Alzheimer's, autism, head injuries, you know, anything like that," said Lieutenant Sean Barnwell, with the Branson Police Department.
Barnwell said the system, which uses radio frequencies, allows law enforcement officers to find someone in under ten minutes instead of hours, which is how long it can take to find a missing person without it. With GPS and similar technology, the signal is blocked if someone goes into a building or under a bridge, he said. "It's old technology, but it's really strong technology."
In the Branson area, a big concern with the many bodies of water and hotel pools there, is that children with autism are sometimes drawn to water. "And when they have these bouts of wandering, many times they end up in areas of water, and they shed their clothing and end up in the water, and if they can't swim, then we end up with a drowning," Barnwell said.
The money for the initial purchase came from Benefit the Bridge, an annual event that raises money for local law enforcement in Branson.
He hopes to eventually expand the program so that visitors to Branson could take part in it.
"That way, the people that are keeping up with these Alzheimer's patients and these loved ones, they can rest a little easier while they're here in town knowing that if they up and disappear in the middle of the night that we have a way to help find them," said Barnwell.
Ten officers have gone through training to learn how to use the system and to learn more about autism and Alzheimer's. They'll work with Project Lifesaver participants to make sure their transmitters are working and batteries are changed when needed and get to know them.
The program is already in place in Taney County where 25 transmitters have been issued.
Applications for the seven new bracelets are being accepted. You can get an application at the Branson Police Department, 110 W. Maddux, or online. For more information, (417) 337-8593.