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Care Trak system still unused: 'We're extremely lucky,' officer says
MONROE - Four years after the Green County Sheriff's Department implemented a system that helps law enforcement locate wandering people with Alzheimer's or developmental disabilities, the system has not been used once.

"We're extremely lucky that we've never had to use it since it started," said deputy Pam Tourdot, the officer in charge of managing the department's Care Trak system.

Care Trak is an electronic tracking system in which a person at risk for wandering behavior is given an electronic bracelet that emits a signal that can be detected by a receiver.

The system, which was implemented in 2013, has had nine enrollees since its inception, Tourdot estimated, five of which are currently enrolled. Two of the current enrollees are children and the rest are adults, Tourdot said.

Darrell Morrissey, patrol sergeant for the Lafayette County Sheriff Department, said his department also implemented Care Trak in 2013, although currently no people are enrolled in it.

"There was one autistic child who was enrolled a few years ago, but he got older and he didn't need it anymore," Morrissey said.

That child was the only person ever enrolled in Lafayette County's Care Trak program, Morrissey said, and never required a search during his enrollment.

"It's still a fairly new program for us, but there's still been people making inquiries about setting it up," Morrissey said.

Tourdot said the bracelets can be detected from a mile away on the ground.

"We don't track the users' activities," Tourdot said. "We just locate them if they get lost."

Tourdot said families and caregivers recommend people to the program, with only two rules determining who is eligible: the enrollee must be under 24-hour care, and must be a Green County resident.

"The person also has to be comfortable with the bracelet," Tourdot added, saying that one person was fitted with a bracelet only to find that the device was uncomfortable. The device, intended to be worn continuously, can only be removed by physically cutting the device's band.

Although no Care Trak enrollee has yet gone missing, family members and caregivers are asked to look for the person briefly before calling the police. Once officers arrive, accompanied by a K-9 unit, Tourdot said finding the missing person is simply a matter of entering the device's unique signal frequency into the receiver and scouring the area.

Tourdot said the service is free, thanks to the sponsorship of Green County Fall Nationals and several other donors.