HOWARD COUNTY, Ind. -- Howard County launched a new program to give people peace of mind if their loved ones go missing. This device could be especially helpful for families caring for people with autism or Alzheimer's disease.
It's called Care Trak and it looks like a watch, but it's more powerful than telling time.
"Each individual one has a different number that they we use. We would dial that into our receiving equipment over here and that's how we would track that particular individual," said Capt. Jerry Asher with the Howard County Sheriff's Office.
The Care Trak wrist transmitter is now in Howard County thanks to a grant from the Autism Resource Center of Kokomo. The transmitter can locate someone wearing the wristband from a mile away on the ground and five miles away in the air.
"We knew that there was other things around the area but nothing in Kokomo, nothing in Howard County so that's why we wanted to get it started," Asher said.
Families of loved ones with special needs can get this device for free if they live in Howard County, but they have to apply to get one.
"Their doctor would have to literally sign off on that agreement and then bring that application into the sheriff's department for us to approve," Asher said.
"Apply for it and use it. But ultimately if you need this band that individual should never be left unattended," mother Jacque McGuire said.
McGuire says this product is useful but works best with a set of eyes.
"But Hunter's an intelligent guy. He cut it off," McGuire said.
Her son Hunter has autism and Prader-Willi syndrome, a condition that makes him want to eat uncontrollably. Four years ago he left the house to get four pizzas and was missing for 30 hours.
"He could've been killed the night he was missing for 30 hours. It was a miracle that he didn't die. A literal miracle," McGuire said.
McGuire warns families not to think of the device as a babysitter. Hunter now has care 24 hours a day. Other counties like Delaware, Hamilton and Tippecanoe have similar programs and products. If you live in Howard County and you’re interested in Care Trak, click here.