MOBILE, Alabama — Disoriented but safe, authorities found a 57-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s less than two hours after he was reported missing Tuesday morning. Officials credited his Project Lifesaver band for the quick rescue.
The band contains a transmitter which sends a chirp out when a receiver is nearby.
The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the missing man around 8:40 a.m. He was back home by 10:15 a.m.
“The average search for a missing Alzheimer’s patient in the U.S. is 9 hours,” said Cpl. Kent Smith, of the Alabama Department of Public Safety. “And it can be very costly. With equipment and man hours, that 9 hour search could cost $300,000.”
Smith is the state coordinator for Project Lifesaver, a program which provides bands to people who tend to wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism and a variety of other disorders or conditions.
The missing 57-year-old also suffers from seizures, according to MCSO.
Deputies arrived at his home in Mobile around 9:15 a.m. Using a receiver provided by Project Lifesaver, they listened for any sign of the man, without success.
Dep. Matt Peek turned to Alabama State Troopers for assistance. They sent out a helicopter crew from Fairhope, equipped with a receiver.
Within about 20 minutes of their takeoff, they located the missing man one and a half miles from the place he was last seen.
“He seemed disoriented but stated that he knew where he was,” Peek said.
Smith said approximately 500 people across the state participate in Project Lifesaver, although there are 80,000 Alzheimer’s patients alone statewide. He said the bands are not for all such patients, but for “anyone who’s prone to wander.”
For more information on Project Lifesaver, contact MCSO at 251-574-2423.