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 July 19th, 2010  
St. Lucie County deputies quickly locate disoriented 84-year-old woman in case that shows benefits of locator-bracelet program, according to Sheriff Mascara
 
St. Lucie County deputies were able to quickly find an 84-year-old woman suffering from dementia who had wandered away from her home Sunday night, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.

"Fortunately, deputies including a K-9 team found Agnes Sorrentino DiMaio near her 10 Lake Vista Trail, Apartment 101, home Sunday night, and she was missing less about two hours," Sheriff Mascara said. "But the next time we look for a disoriented adult, we might not be as fortunate as we were Sunday night."

That's why the Sheriff has worked with Alzheimer's Community Care and the Pilot Club of St. Lucie County  to create a program to help locate elderly persons who may become disoriented and disappear from their homes.

The program involves a locator identification bracelet that deputies can track with a special radio receiver if the person wearing the bracelet gets lost.

In the Sunday night case, Deputy Shawn Masters, and his K-9 Partner Gunnar, a Belgian Malinois, were able to track Ms. DiMaio to an area just east of her home.

"We were all grateful that Ms. DiMaio hadn't wandered far from her home," Sheriff Mascara said. "With the locator bracelet program, we can successfully find endangered persons wearing the bracelet, which gives out radio signals that can penetrate concrete walls, unlike GPS devices. The batteries are designed to withstand extreme heat or cold and can last about 30 days. The range of the signal is about one mile on the ground."

Information on the program is available by contacting Sarah Dale, Alzheimer's Community Care St. Lucie Family Nurse Consultant, at 772-460-9166. The Pilot Club raises funds and purchases equipment. Alzheimer's Community Care is responsible for screening patients for the program, outfitting them with bracelets, maintaining the bracelets and sending the patient information to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office maintains the receiver units, trains personnel on the equipment and conducts a search if a person wearing the bracelet becomes lost.

The equipment is called Care Trak. It is a radio-based system established in 1986 by parent company Wildlife Materials, Inc., which had been using the same type of technology for tracking wildlife all over the world since 1970.

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