Summit County: Technology assists search and rescue efforts for finding mentally disabled
August 2, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – A lost person with Alzheimer’s or autism can be much more difficult to find than a misplaced hiker, and Summit County now has a service to prevent such unfortunate mishaps.
Summit County Rescue coordinator Joe Ben Slivka said situations with mental disorders are of “incredibly high urgency” because “it’s different from somebody backpacking the Gore Range – somebody with the ability to feed … and help themselves.”
Colorado Life Trak uses transmitters the size of wristwatches that the person wears at all times. If that person wanders off, the rescue group’s transmitters can detect it from four to five miles away.
In addition, the transmitters are coded, making it much easier for the group to find the person’s physical description and other important factors.
Summit County Ambulance Service deputy director Roger Coit said his service, the rescue group and Sheriff’s Office partnered to get a roughly $10,000 grant to support the Life Trak service.
“We’re really excited about this,” he said. “(It will) save hugely on clients’ well-being and safety.”
The average search and recovery time for the service – which is used in several other Colorado areas – is less than 30 minutes, according to a press release from the ambulance service.
Other common conditions that qualify people for Life Trak include dementia, Down syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome, the most common genetic cause of life-threatening obesity in children.
The grant from the Colorado Department of Public Safety included the transmitter bracelets, batteries and receivers. Applications for Life Trak are available at co.summit.co.us/ems or by calling Lin Denham at Summit County Ambulance Service at (970) 668-4187.