Almost half of children with autism will at some point engage in wandering behavior – putting their lives at risk and their families and caregivers through a terrible ordeal even if they are safely found. One-third of all people in California with autism live in L.A. County, according to the Autism Society of Los Angeles.
In September, the county launched a program to make sure those with autism, alzheimer’s disease or dementia who wander are quickly found. “L.A. Found” features a system of trackable bracelets that can be located using receivers carried in L.A. Sheriff’s Department helicopters and by personnel on the ground.
“If you have cared for someone with dementia or autism, you know the fear of what might happen if you turn your back for just one minute,” said County Supervisor Janice Hahn – who proposed the original county task force that gathered the information needed to create the program – at the L.A. Found launch event. “L.A. Found will not only save lives, it will finally give caregivers some peace of mind. If someone you love goes missing, L.A. County is ready to step in and help find them.”
Participants in L.A. Found wear trackable bracelets provided by the nonprofit Project Lifesaver. When someone wearing a bracelet is missing, their caregiver can call 9-1-1 and the Sheriff’s Department Mental Evaluation Team will use tracking receivers to help locate them. The bracelets use radio frequency technology but are only monitored when a person wearing a bracelet is reported missing. The Project Lifesaver technology is in use in cities and counties across the U.S., including locally in Glendale.
“Our LASD mission is to be the eyes and ears in the sky and on the ground. This technology literally enables lost loved ones to communicate their location to us and enable us to do all we can as first responders, to bring peace, comfort and families back together again,” said Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
In order to qualify for the program, caregivers must schedule a phone interview with either the Sheriff’s Department or Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services Department through at LAFound.com. Once an at-risk individual qualifies, the caregiver will be allowed to purchase and register the bracelet with the Sheriff’s Department.
The bracelets cost $325, plus tax and shipping. There are leasing opportunities available through Project Lifesaver. There is currently a waiting list to be considered for a free bracelet. Call 833-569-7651 or email LAFound@WDACS.LACOUNTY.GOV to be placed on the waiting list.