MOULTRIE -- Technology intended to track endangered animals can also save human lives, and the Moultrie Pilot Club wants to bring it to Colquitt County.

People suffering from Alzheimer's disease, autism and other brain-related disease, who often wander away from home, can be now be found in record time with the help of a little bracelet.

It's called Care Trak, and the company is affiliated with Wildlife Materials, which has been tracking and monitoring endangered species around the planet for more than 30 years.

Here's how the system works: A patient suffering from a brain disorder or damage can purchase a bracelet, which is about the size of a wristwatch.

The band, which is battery powered, contains a transmitter that emits a signal on its own frequency.

If the patient were to wander off, a caregiver would call 911 and a response team would come to the last known location of the patient. A receiver would be set to the bracelet's frequency and pick up the signal.

But it's not cheap.

The Moultrie Pilot Club has taken on the challenge of raising the thousands of dollars needed to purchase the equipment for the Care Trak system for Colquitt County.

Lt. Alan Everidge, who's in charge of the Houston County Sheriff's Response Team, said Care Trak is a "lifesaver."

"It is the best that I have found to help deal with people with these kinds of conditions, whether it be Alzheimer's, autistic children," said Everidge, a 16-year law enforcement veteran. "We just need to get it on more people."

The Care Trak receiver, the most expensive piece of equipment, was purchased by the Pilot Club of Warner Robins and Perry.

Everidge has been with the response team for the past 10 years. He said that between two and three dozen people in Houston and surrounding counties are currently wearing the bracelets.

It can handle more than 300 different frequencies.

"(Care Trak) has cut our manpower and search time down to the bare minimum," Everidge said. "We used to spend on the average search 8-10 hours with 50-60 officers hunting for them depending on where they were last seen. Now, we can generally have two officers and within an hour to an hour and 15 minutes from the initial call to us, we generally have them located."

Every Care Trak patient who has wandered has been found alive, Everidge said. Alzheimer patients are commonly found dead because they are usually elderly and not dressed for the weather.

There is a monthly fee that pays for the Pilot Club to come to every patient, check their bracelet and change the battery.

"It's really a nominal fee considering the peace of mind it gives," Everidge said.

On land, the receiver can pick up the signal about two miles away. But with an aerial receiver, such as one attached to a helicopter, the range is expanded to seven or eight miles, Everidge said.

The Moultrie Pilot Club is raising money to buy the receiver, 20 bracelets and batteries, at a total cost of $10,000.

"This is probably the largest community project that we have ever undertaken," said Judy Owens, a Pilot member and past president. "We do other things (for the community), but I think this is the largest."

The Pilot Club is an international organization of volunteers who seek to improve the quality of life for people suffering from brain-related disorders.

Many of the Moultrie members have family members suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Pilot member Cherie Searcy's brother, who is in his 60s, suffered brain damage during birth, and she worries that he may one day wander.

"He hasn't done that yet, but I would feel much better with Care Trak," she said.

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