- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BEATRICE, Neb. (AP) - The Gage County Jail in southeast Nebraska is testing a system that officials hope could help save the lives of inmates who attempt suicide.

The system, called AliveLock, was developed by Lincoln-based Pacific Place Enterprises to enable jailers to track an individual’s vital signs in real time, the Beatrice Daily Sun said (http://bit.ly/1iBAeyy ).

A special bracelet placed on an inmate wirelessly transmits the individual’s breathing and other vital signs to a central location. An alarm is triggered and jailers are notified if the inmate’s vital signs become unstable.

The device doesn’t prevent suicide attempts, but Gage County Sheriff Millard “Gus” Gustafson said it will enable jailers “respond quicker and help save lives.” The sheriff noted that two of the three inmates who committed suicide in his 36 years with the department died in the past year.

AliveLock has a base station that can monitor 23 inmates. The bracelets are waterproof and will also trigger alarms if someone tampers with them.

Company co-founder Melanie Bailey declined to say what the system will cost until trials of the new product are complete. After the device is functioning at the Gage County Jail, a second setup will be tested in Hall County.

AliveLock is intended to be used with regular inmate checks by jailers.

“Jails normally do 15-minute checks, and those will still occur,” Bailey said. “This is just another layer of protection. It’s not prevention, but detection.”

The system also can be used to monitor inmates’ vital signs as they withdraw from drugs or alcohol, and can ensure restraints used on inmates are properly applied and not harming inmates.

In addition to helping save lives, Bailey said, the system can save money for counties and states.

“This could potentially save the county millions of dollars to be able to find on the front end there’s an emergency rather than on the back end,” Bailey said.

“We’re just tired of people dying in custody,” she said. “It’s hard on families and very taxing on the staff that works there.”

AliveLock is manufactured in Minnesota.

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Information from: Beatrice Sun, http://www.beatricedailysun.com

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