Monday, February 03, 2014

dementia patient hit by train

The first time my dad went missing, he was really lost.  The second time, though, he was angry.  He was going to go walk in front of a truck.  He wouldn't get into my car (once he was located) and it took a police officer to get him into a vehicle and home.
It's really hard to judge how much people with dementia retain.  The last time I saw my dad before his catastrophic head injury, he surprised me by hugging me and saying he loved me.  Did he know who I was that day, or was he just happy "that girl who helps me" came to visit him at the nursing home?  I'd like to think it's the former.  In that situation, we all hope there was a spark of recognition there, just for that moment.
We'll never know what was in this dementia patient's mind when he managed to escape his nursing home and walk into a moving train on Saturday night.  The unidentified man, in his 70s, was not even reported missing by the nursing home until an hour after he had been hit by the train.  Who knows how long he was wandering outside in Canada in February.
Police said the train engineer sounded the warning horn, but the man continued to walk toward the train....(T)he man was conscious, breathing and talking when first responders arrived.
Mighty fine reporting there.  Conscious and breathing?  Talking and breathing?  I think the breathing is a given when someone is conscious and speaking.
The man is now in the hospital with undetermined head injuries.
I'm trying to envision this.  Was he walking down the tracks, directly at the train?  Was he walking perpendicular to the train, toward the side of it?  Another article says he was walking down the tracks.  That train engineer must have stood on the brakes not to have completely taken the old guy out.
The nursing home doesn't seem to be too broken up over one of their dementia patients, who should have been in a locked, alarmed ward, wandering off and almost getting killed by a train.  There's no mention of any family, unless the "unidentified" part means the family hasn't been notified yet.  The second article I found was only a few hours old and still says that.
I don't understand how, in the technologically advanced 21st century, how an old man with an addled mind managed to escape.  How difficult would it be to install, at every exit, RFID readers that also required a code.  If a patient learns the code, she still hasn't got the card, and if she's stolen a card, she (hopefully) doesn't have the code.  Employee's card is missing, immediately remove that card's number from access.
RFID chip and grain of rice
You can get something that works in reverse as well--you can get it for cat doors.  The cat door has a chip reader and your cat wears the chip on its collar.  Any animal without the chip can't enter.  So only your cat, not your neighbor's cat or a raccoon or a skunk or a family of hungry rats.  The one I linked to even works off the animal's already embedded RFID chip.  (Because if you love your pet, you'll chip it at the same time you get it fixed.) 
The embedded chip is the size of a grain of rice and there is no reason that it couldn't be embedded in a person.  They aren't tracking chips (not yet anyway) but they would work for doors.  I know Bible lovers think RFID chips are the mark of the devil but they need to get over themselves.  The first time a child or a mentally handicapped person or a dementia patient is found because of a microchip, their tune will change.  One would hope.

Screen print of first articleScreen print of second article. RFID chip

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