Spokane Sheriff's Air Support Unit training to find missing persons - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Spokane Sheriff's Air Support Unit training to find missing persons

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Spokane Co. Sheriff's Office Air One helps track missing persons & suspects Spokane Co. Sheriff's Office Air One helps track missing persons & suspects

SPOKANE, Wash. - If you hear the whir of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office Air One helicopter overhead Wednesday afternoon don't worry, its likely part of a training effort between deputies on the ground and the Air Support Unit. Members of the Air Support Unit are training using the Rapid Recovery System that helps the Sheriff's Office locate missing Alzheimer's, dementia, autism and other medically-challenged victims who are prone to becoming lost in Eastern Washington. 

The system uses radio frequencies emitted by bracelets worn by the at-risk patients to track them if they go missing. On the ground the system has a range of about one mile but by using a radio frequency detector onboard Air One the Sheriff's Office increases the effective range to five miles.

The Sheriff's Office encourages people who may be at risk to look into the radio frequency emitting bracelets as a safety precaution. Sgt. Dave Reagan with the Sheriff's Office says that recent changes in Medicare & Medicaid rules may now allow patients to receive financial assistance in obtaining the bracelets.

To learn more about the bracelets contact Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Wade Nelson at wanelson@spokanesheriff.org or at 509-477-7610. 

The Spokane County Sheriff's Air Unit was on a list of possible budget cuts earlier this year but the Spokane County Board of Commissioners voted to continue funding the helicopter unit. Besides assisting in search and rescue the Air Support Unit is used by local law enforcement to assist in tracking suspects during vehicle and foot pursuits using a FLIR imaging system. FLIR stands for Forward Looking Infrared. The FLIR system is a key component in tracking suspects and locating missing persons.
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