Tracking devices prove their worth
Wanderer tracking devices are proving their worth among South Canterbury families affected by dementia.
The tracking devices, a small radio transmitter pendant, have helped police locate two missing people in extra quick time.
The most recent success came last week when a Geraldine resident sparked a search just three weeks after getting one of the devices.
"We think they are the most wonderful things ever. The fact people can be found in 10 to 20 minutes is just wonderful," Alzheimers South Canterbury community liaison officer Barbara Fleming said.
Constable Rory Chapman was able to get the signal from the missing man's tracker pendant 11 minutes after arriving in Geraldine and setting up the receiver equipment, Senior Constable Bill Phiskie said yesterday.
The fit 85-year-old's family had searched for him for three hours before police were alerted.
The pendants are activated as soon as they are issued.
When a person goes missing, police use the receiver to pick up the frequency of the individual pendant.
The pendants emit a signal that can be detected within a 1.5 kilometre radius. The frequency of each pendant is kept on a police data base.
Wander Trackers were introduced in Timaru in 2011 and are now also being used by people living in the Mackenzie Country, Waimate, Temuka and Geraldine.
Both Mr Phiskie and Mrs Fleming said the devices were a great asset for families living with dementia as it meant their loved one did not have to be restricted to a secure area.
"It's more the piece of mind for the spouse that the person can still go out," Mrs Fleming said.
"It gives the person [with dementia] the ability to still exercise."
She said up to 24 people were wearing the devices in South Canterbury and encouraged more to get them, particularly people who enjoy walking or have started to wander.
Service clubs and other community groups have provided police with a number of the pendants, but they could make use of more, Mr Phiskie said.
The only cost to the user is $40 to replace the battery every six months. The $5000 receiver device used by police was donated by Timaru doctor Richard Price.
Individuals can purchase their own pendant for around $250, and then register the user's details and pendant frequency with police.
- © Fairfax NZ News