Sgt. Brian Caviness
(540)743-6571 ext. 3378
Locating the missing and the wandering is one of our most challenging jobs. Whether dealing with adults with Alzheimer’s and related disorders or children with Downs Syndrome or Autism, the need for our help grows rapidly by the day. We will be hearing more and more about his problem in the media and around our Sheriff’s Offices.
Fortunately, we have a solution. More than 400 instances of swift and safe rescues are the result of the innovative and highly successful partnerships formed by Project Lifesaver which was established in April of 1999. Before Project Lifesaver, the average rescue time for an Alzheimer’s patient or a related disorder took many hours. The chance of finding the victim alive after 24 hours had very low statistics. With the implementation of Project Lifesaver, the average recovery/rescue time for victims of these diseases decreased to 22 minutes.
More than 4 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s and that number will triple by 2050. Well over 50% of these people wander and may become lost. A lost person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia presents an extremely critical emergency. Individuals with impaired mental abilities are unaware of the dangers of their situation. They do not call out for help and do not respond appropriately to people calling out for them. In short, they are unable to actively contribute to a search-and-rescue operation. Nearly half of these missing and wandering will die if they are not located within 24 hours, and many can become injured or fall victim to predators. The number of people, families, and communities experiencing this risk is growing dramatically each year.
Project Lifesaver uses a pulse-carrier wave radio-frequency technology, complemented by a specially trained search-and-rescue team. People who use the services of the Project Lifesaver program wear a personalized wristband that emits a constant tracking signal. When caregivers notify the local Project Lifesaver agency of a person missing, a search-and-rescue team responds to the wanderer’s area and starts searching with a mobile locator tracking system. Search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes, which dramatically reduces the risk of serious injury or death in over 400 searches.
The Project Lifesaver transmitter wristband is much more than a passive ID wristband. It is a one-ounce, battery-operated radio wrist transmitter that emits an automatic tracking signal every second, twenty four hours a day. The signal can be tracked on the ground or in the air over several miles. Each wristband has a unique radio frequency which allows the Project Lifesaver search team to positively locate and identify a person who is lost or has wandered away from the safety of their home or care facility using a specially designed radio receiver resulting in the rapid safe return of a loved one.