'Safety Net' bracelet's allow deputies to GPS track people with dementia who may wander off

Deputies push for Safety Net participants
Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-06 18:18:00-05

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. — The search for a missing woman over the weekend in Highlands County may be a reminder people can sign up for a program called Safety Net.

48 people are signed up for the program in Highlands County and it is free for participants thanks to a grant.

According to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, people are given a bracelet to wear and an antenna keeps tabs on them if they wander off. In Highlands County, anyone can sign up who is at risk of walking away.

"If you have an individual that has Alzheimer's or has been diagnosed with something of that nature, get started on this program, 'cause the worst thing that could happen is somebody go missing and not have it end up the way that this incident did," Deputy Jeff Turner said.

On Sunday, Deputy Turner and his bloodhound Maverick, searched for a missing woman.

"I had a friend, who knew that I lived on that street. He called me up and (said) hey we have a missing person (and) it's your neighbor. Can you help us out?" Deputy Turner said.

Deputy Turner called his supervisor, who gave him permission to search for the missing woman. Deputy Turner was not supposed to be working because of an injury.

"I said hey I got a little bit of a moral issue here. I know I'm on light duty. I'm not supposed to work, but it's my neighbor and she's missing," Deputy Turner said.

Deputy Turner suffered injuries when he and his K-9 tracked down a man through the woods, Friday, who was accused of stealing a car. Deputy Turner said dozens of cactus needles pierced different parts of his body.

"It was extremely painful, especially when the doctor didn't give me a numbing agent right away," Deputy Turner said.

Deputy Turner said they could have found his neighbor faster, if she would have been wearing the Safety Net bracelet. His neighbor is now signed up for the program.

"Should she escape somehow and he can't find her immediately than we can track (her) with that," Deputy Turner said.

Linda Addis is a caretaker.

"It made life a lot easier," Addis said.

Addis takes care of Vivian, who turns 92 this year. She signed her up for the program a few years ago.

"I don't have to worry about her wandering out of the house," Addis said.

Several counties use Safety Net, including Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

"I recommend it to everybody. I mean to anybody that has even a child that, you know, an autistic child, or something like that. You never know and safety in my opinion comes first," Addis said.

If you would like to sign up for the program, call the sheriff's office in your county and ask whether they offer the Safety Net program or something similar.