Rock County launches the "Purple Tube Project" for dementia patients

Updated: April 13, 2018

ROCK COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) -- A new program is now up and running in Rock County involving a purple tube helping dementia patients and first responders.

"We had an incident involving one of our senior citizens in town that has an onset of dementia and he didn't return home one night," said Chief Ronald Northrop with the Town of Beloit Police Department.

After multiple police departments searched for 84-year-old Stuart Austin for weeks in January of 2017, authorities ended up finding him dead in Grant County.

"This is my first time in my 35 years of law enforcement that I actually felt helpless. That I actually felt like I needed to do more," said Chief Northrop.

The incident is why Chief Ronald Northrop contacted Cori Marsh from the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Rock County to discuss what law enforcement could do to make it easier for first responders to help dementia patients.

"In Rock County, we have over 3,600 people that have Alzheimer’s disease or related-dementia, and of those, more than 30 percent are actually living alone. In a crisis, somebody’s that's having a memory problem may not be able to say who to call and who to reach out to," said Cori Marsh, a Dementia Care Specialist at the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Rock County.

Marsh then came up with the idea of the “Purple Tube Project,” which provides patients with a tube filled with emergency information to put in a safe location in their home. That way first responders can quickly learn everything about the patient if they were to need help or go missing.

Police say the tube will include: a safety plan for medical or behavioral emergencies for those with dementia, a brief medical history, a reminder to include a medication list, emergency and non-emergency contacts, a release of information so context can be shared with first responders, emergency rooms and crisis personnel, updated photos and a copy of the patient's healthcare power of attorney.

"It’s about every 66 seconds somebody new is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We really want people to have the tools they need to be able to remain at home in an emergency situation if possible. So by providing emergency information, we have access to who to call and what to do," said Marsh.

"We want to be able to respond appropriately, and having that information gives us a starting point," said Chief Northrop.

Rock County police and fire agencies are trained to use the tubes.

For more information on the project, call the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Rock County at 608-741-3600.

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Posted: April 6, 2018

BELOIT, Wis. (WIFR) - The Beloit Police Department and other Rock County agencies are working with the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Rock County to make calls involving people with dementia run more smoothly with the Purple Tube Project.

Patients will receive a purple tube that will be placed in the person's home where first responders will know to find it based on instructions from the 911 center.

Police say the tube will include: a safety plan for medical or behavioral emergencies for those with dementia, a brief medical history, a reminder to include a medication list, emergency and non-emergency contacts, a release of information so context can be shared with first responders, emergency rooms and crisis personnel, updated photos and a copy of the patient's healthcare power of attorney.

Several agencies are trained to use the tubes including EMT's throughout Rock County, the Rock County Sheriff's Office and the Council on Aging.

For more information on the project, call the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Rock County at 608-741-3600.