Freedom Watch program

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Families in Wright County now have access to technology to save the lives of those with special needs who may wander away, thanks to the fundraising efforts of Buffalo Hospital Fund.

Freedom Watch program at Buffalo Hospital in Wright County, MN, uses state-of-the-art technology and specially trained teams to rapidly locate lost children and adults with autism, Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.

How Freedom Watch works

Clients enrolled in Freedom Watch wear a wristband which emits a tracking signal. The signal can be picked up as far as one mile on the ground and 10 miles by air.

If a person wearing a bracelet ever is lost, their care giver calls 911 and a Freedom Watch search and rescue team responds with a mobile tracking system. Recovery times average less than 30 minutes.

Sergeant Brian Johnson of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office says it’s a good tool to help searchers. “Time is of the essence when you are searching for any missing person, but even more so if they have special needs. Freedom Watch gives us an advantage because it allows us to narrow large search areas.”

Freedom Watch training also included education on how to interact best with people with conditions like autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Locating the individual is only part of the mission. The person may be disoriented, anxious and untrusting. Search teams know how to approach the person, gain their trust and put them at ease for the trip home.

Bringing Freedom Watch to Wright County

Buffalo Hospital initiated the push to bring Freedom Watch to Wright County. With emergency agencies on board, the Allina Health Foundation dedicated the annual fall fishing tournament to raising money for Freedom Watch. A tele-fundraising campaign followed. Then several community organizations jumped in, including Wright Hennepin Electric’s Operation Round Up, the Elim Care Foundation, the Community Health Foundation of Wright County and the Buffalo Fire Department.

Sign up

Families can sign up for Freedom Watch by calling Wright County Human Services at 763-682-7875 for an application. The service is $300 (includes leased bracelet, batteries, wrist bands and other necessary supplies) for the first year, then $105 each year thereafter. Batteries are changed monthly to ensure the bracelet always works. Scholarship funds from Buffalo Hospital Fund are available for those who qualify for assistance.