Pilot Club kicks off Project Lifesaver

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Demopolis Pilot Club has teamed up with the Virginia-based rescue program, Project Lifesaver, to help people in Marengo County who have Alzheimer&8217;s, autism, Down syndrome or who are nonverbal. Their first fundraising effort was at this year&8217;s Freedom on the River, where they set up a booth to sell patriotic items such as flags and buttons to make money for the cause.

She and her fellow committee members began this week visiting with city councils all over Marengo County and the Marengo County Commission to ask for funding for Project Lifesaver. They are also seeking help from other civic clubs to get the word out for this program.

Project Lifesaver is a nationwide effort that provides a sophisticated tracking system and social network to help find individuals who may be prone to wandering due to certain medical conditions. The main component of the program is bracelets, or transmitter wristbands, which emit an automatic tracking signal 24 hours a day. This signal is used to help locate and identify a person who is registered through the Project Lifesaver program if they wander from home or their caregivers.

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According to the Project Lifesaver national records, as of July 9 there have been 1,521 clients reported lost and 1,521 clients found. Furthermore, these clients were found in 30 to 60 minutes within a mile from their homes.

In Alabama, 27 sheriff&8217;s offices, two police departments, one volunteer fire department and one coroner&8217;s office have become a part of the Project Lifesaver network.

Owens and her team hope to add Marengo County to the list of participants.

The cost for implementing the program in Marengo County is $7,680. This cost includes an electronic search specialist course, which would train law enforcement and public safety personnel on how to use the electronic tracking equipment in conjunction with an established proactive profile and monitoring program to locate missing persons.

They are also looking to purchase 30 bracelets for 30 clients, which would be an additional cost of $9,000.

They recently asked the Marengo County Commission for $1,500 to go towards the cost of implementing the program. After the commissioners heard more about the program, the Pilot Club was granted the funds for the request.

After they are able to raise the funds to implement the program, Owens said, they will contact local Departments of Human Resources, Health Departments, Special Education Coordinators at Boards of Education, doctors and lawyers for referrals on individuals who might benefit from the program.

After they have a list compiled of who may be eligible for a wristband, then the Sheriff&8217;s Office will decide, based on a priority system, who will receive the wristbands.

Owens said if they have any extra money, they may look into purchasing signs that designate the area as a participant in the Project Lifesaver program.

If you would like to learn more about Project Lifesaver, please contact Charlotte Owens at 334-216-9207 or the following Pilot Club members: Margie Belcher, Pam McKinley, Melissa Weltin or Brenda Williams.

Kelli Hilyer is a staff writer for The Demopolis Times. She can be reached by e-mail to kelli.hilyer@demopolistimes.com.