HOLDEN, Mass. — Holden's Police Department is among the growing number of Massachusetts communities using the LoJack SafetyNet program to help rescue loved ones who wander from home — a service that has aided families in the recovery of relatives with cognitive issues such as Alzheimer's disease.
Holden Police officers Mike Braley and Robert Himmer have recently been trained in the use of the device, which uses radio frequency technology and a tracking bracelet to find and rescue individuals when they get lost.
"Officer Braley took it upon himself to get involved in this program, and I applaud him because time is of the essence when someone goes missing, whether it's a child with autism, an elderly person with Alzheimer's or a vet coming back with a war injury that would cause him to wander off. Any cognitive issue," said Ralph Poland, law enforcement liaison for SafetyNet by LoJack.
A retired Marshfield police officer, Poland recounted how, prior to his department's use of the service, a man with Alzheimer's was reported lost, and it took many hours and costly resources to recover him, including a state police helicopter, a K9 unit and multiple departments.
It wasn't until police investigated another call later that night that they discovered the man had walked into the garage of a nearby home and had been sitting inside a car the entire time.
Conversely, Poland said that, after the SafetyNet program was implemented in July 2010, a man in his mid-80's was reported missing, and, with the use of the equipment, was found within 18 minutes.
"They found him stuck in the mud in the South River at dead-low tide," said Poland.
With Holden police offers now trained to use the service, Poland said, the community now has "another tool in their toolbox to save lives."
The training and equipment was supplied to the department at no cost, said Poland. For caregivers, the cost to enroll a family member in the program and receive a tracking bracelet is $99, and $30 per month after that.
To participate in the program, contact the Holden Police Department or visit safetynetbylojack.com.