Local News

Bracelets Help Locate People With Brain Disorders

Posted March 26, 2008 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2008 9:56 p.m. EDT

— A program that provides bracelets with homing devices could have helped Orange County authorities more quickly locate a boy with autism when he wandered off Tuesday evening, officials said.

Zander Mcgee, 2, was missing for nearly three hours after he walked away from his home southwest of Chapel Hill. A neighbor found the boy curled up beside the road about 300 yards from his home and on the other side of a wooded area.

Betty Moore, a volunteer with the Pilot International service organization, said Wednesday that she could think of only one thing when she heard Orange County authorities were searching for the boy.

"I wish they had had the program in Orange County," said Moore, who coordinates Project Lifesaver for Wake County.

Project Lifesaver provides bracelets to help locate people with brain disorders, including autism and Alzheimer's disease. The bracelets have a sensor that transmits a unique radio signal that can a special receiver can pick up within a one-mile radius.

Twenty-two people in Wake County, including six children, wear the bracelets. County authorities haven't had the need to search for any of them yet.

"It's an amazing program. It's a wonderful program," said Deputy Laura Driver, who oversees the program for the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Driver's son, Ricky, is one of the children who wear a Project Lifesaver bracelet.

"(Ricky) was diagnosed with autism shortly after his first birthday. He is, indeed, a wanderer. He likes to get out and run away," she said. "(It's comforting) being able to go to work or go to sleep or, you know, just to step outside in your yard and know that you have an extra piece of mind that you can find your child."

Moore said she wishes every county had Project Lifesaver.

"What a blessing it is that we have the program in Wake County," she said.

The bracelets are free, but people have to meet several criteria to qualify:

  • Live in Wake County
  • Have a documented brain disorder
  • Have a history of wandering away from a caregiver
  • Have a caregiver who can check the device's battery daily and keep a daily log
  • Agree to wear the bracelet at all times.

"We've got (a bracelet) on one child's leg because he kept taking it off," Moore said.

For information about Project Lifesaver, call the Wake County Sheriff's Office at 919-856-6495.