Marion County Patient Protection Task Force Launches New Program
Contact: Todd Harper
INDIANAPOLIS - Today, public safety agencies from across Indianapolis have announced the formation of a new program and partnership focused on providing rapid response for adults and children who become lost due to Alzheimer’s disease, autism, dementia and other related cognitive conditions.
The new program, called the Marion County Patient Protection Task Force (MCPPTF), is a partnership between the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD), Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (IEMS), Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), Department of Homeland Security, and the Autism Society of Indiana.
“The new program allows us to pool all the resources available through the Department of Public Safety to better serve and protect the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Dr. Charles Miramonti, chief of Indianapolis EMS. “Not only will this program greatly help reduce tragic outcomes, but it can also serve as a collaborative national model for all public safety agencies across the country.”
“This is yet another example of public safety agencies and the private sector coming together to provide a service which will better protect vulnerable members of our community,” said IFD Chief Brian Sanford. “When the Fire Department Search and Rescue team is called to action it is a race against time. Every step taken to reduce search times directly benefits a successful outcome for the missing.
Through the new MCPPTF, persons in the community who are subject to wandering away from a caregiver due to an underlying medical issue – such as autism or Alzheimer’s disease – are able to wear a small personal transmitter around their wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If that person goes missing, the caregiver notifies 911 and a trained Search and Rescue (SAR) team responds to the area with receivers to track the transmitting signal. With the receiver/transmitter search activated, most of those who wander are found within a few miles of home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. Recovery times for persons wearing a working transmitter averages 30 minutes, which is about 95 percent less time than standard operations.
Approximately 60 people in Marion County have been utilizing a similar program known as Project Lifesaver Indianapolis. The new MCPPTF, which will work closely with the national Project Lifesaver organization, and, through the coordination of both public and private resources, will allow for more people to be served. Someone in Marion County is diagnosed with either autism or Alzheimer’s disease every 18 minutes.
"The Autism Society of Indiana is proud to be able to help the MCPPTF deliver the Project Lifesaver program to individuals affected by autism and other disabilities. The protection and wellbeing of these individuals, as well as the peace of mind it gives their families, is very important to us," said Beth Schweigel, administrative ally at the Autism Society of Indiana. "The mission of the Autism Society of Indiana is to be an Ally to all individuals affected by autism and other disabilities to ensure that everyone has the rights and opportunities throughout their lives to successfully achieve their goals and that everyone is supported in a meaningful way."
In examining the previous program, public safety leaders found that the monthly in-home battery changes by third party personnel was a large stressor in the system. It was determined that the patient’s own caregiver would be a better fit to provide the in-home battery changes to ensure the transmitter would have a charged battery at all times. This one seemingly small change will help facilitate the expansion of the program and the number of persons serviced by the program.
Funding for the program was primarily accomplished through IFD and donations collected. Many of the families on the current waiting list have the ability to fund the initial start-up cost and regular battery and strap replacement but were denied access because the battery change process required third party personnel. The initial start-up cost of the transmitter, case, battery checker, and a year’s supply of batteries (12) and straps (12) is about $300; and after that (year two), the cost for the monthly battery and strap would be around $60 a year ($5 a month). Donations will still be accepted to assist families in need and may be made to the Autism Society of Indiana.
The Indianapolis Department of Public Safety is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Autism Society of Indiana and to participate in the formation of this new and improved system. Public Safety personnel are committed to continuing to help find ways to protect Marion County’s most vulnerable citizens.
Supporting the Program:
The continuation and growth of the MCPPTF relies on the generous financial contributions of individuals, local corporations and foundations. With increased funding, the program is able to offer more assistance to more families. Financial contributions to the program can be made to:
Autism Society of Indiana
13295 Illinois St., Suite 213
Carmel, IN 46032
**(please include Patient Protection or Project Lifesaver in the check’s memo line)
ProjectLifesaverIndy.org and INautism.org