Amber Alerts help track down missing children and save lives, and some believe a similar program for the elderly should be adopted in Wisconsin.
This week, Indiana and Connecticut become the latest states to adopt the Silver Alert system. Its goal is to help find missing adults with dementia or cognitive impairments.
Fourteen other states have the program, and unfunded plans to establish a Silver Alert program in Wisconsin were in the state's multibillion-dollar budget until Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed them, saying he wasn't sure where the money for the program would come from.
Although it was pulled from Wisconsin's budget, some said it's something the state should have.
Ron Swan is living out his golden years in a silver trailer, traveling the country to stay active and alert and to attend Airstream rallies like the one in Madison this week.
"We travel around and we go from state to state sometimes and from one end of the country to the other," Swan said. "That's healthy for the mind."
He said he thinks a Silver Alert program to help police track down missing senior citizens is smart.
"I was in the business for a while of taking care of old people. Some of them would wonder off; you just can't help it sometimes," Swan said.
Sgt. Don Mueller, with the Middleton Police Department, said he hopes Wisconsin will one day have a Silver Alert program.
The program works just like an Amber Alert for children, except for the elderly or missing adults with cognitive impairments.
"It's helpful to have more eyes," Mueller said. "A few years back we had one person who was missing from one of the local nursing homes. He'd been missing for about four hours. We found him only about a block away but through some woods. There he was lying in a puddle of water and it was about 40 degrees out."
Mueller said it's those kinds of close-calls that a Silver Alert program helps avoid.
It's a situation that Pat Auman, an Airstreamer, found herself in more than once while taking care of her ailing father.
"In that case it would have been good, because he would get out and roam around and (I) didn't know where he was. So it would work; if you could get the money it'd be a really good idea," Auman said.
Auman is from Ohio, which is one of the states that do have Silver Alerts. Michigan and Illinois also have similar programs.
The budget provision for Wisconsin only provided permission to start such a system and it didn't provide money to make it happen, which is why the governor vetoed it.
According to research contained in Connecticut legislative documents, other states have found the program has little or no cost since it piggybacks on already existing Amber Alert infrastructure.
The Dane County Sheriff's Department introduced a similar kind of tool last summer. Organizers of "Project Lifesaver" said it's as simple as putting a wristband on a loved one. That wristband contains a tiny transmitter, which works as a tracking unit.
The county's Project Lifesaver program assists in searches for people with autism, Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders.