A new system of trackable bracelets designed to quickly locate people with autism, dementia or Alzheimer's disease when they go missing was introduced Wednesday by Los Angeles County officials.
"L.A. Found" features a system of electronic bracelets that can be located using receivers carried in Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department helicopters and designated ground units.
Wandering is a common problem associated with dementia, Alzheimer's and autism. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 60 percent of people with dementia will wander at some point, while a study by the Interactive Autism Network found that 49 percent of children with autism will engage in wandering behavior.
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While the vast majority of those individuals are recovered, wandering cases can end in tragedy.
"Our LASD mission is to be the eyes and ears in the sky and on the ground,'' said Sheriff Jim McDonnell. "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."
The program is the result of community input and expert recommendations through the Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Task Force, originally proposed through a motion authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
In February 2018, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a comprehensive set of strategies proposed by the BOLOH Task Force, including a countywide pilot program to provide trackable bracelets to county residents.
"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,'' Hahn said. "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."
L.A. County has more than 177,000 residents with Alzheimer's disease, along with a large population of people with autism and other developmental disorders that make them susceptible to wandering.
To learn how to qualify for a bracelet, caregivers can visit www.LAFound.com.