Project Lifesaver training underway

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2007

LINDEN &8212; In spite of the rain Tuesday, a group of law enforcement officials, first responders and Demopolis Pilot Club members got their first taste of what a search for a Project Lifesaver client would be like.

Armed with sophisticated telemetry equipment and led by Sgt. Dale Phillips of the Tuscaloosa Sheriff&8217;s Department, a group of 13 trainees underwent a crash course in equipment and the procedures associated with the rescue component of Project Lifesaver, a program designed to help find people who have Alzheimer&8217;s, autism, Down syndrome or other conditions that may cause them to wander.

Phillips, who serves as the state coordinator, has been working with Project Lifesaver since 2001.

In all, 33 counties in Alabama participate in the program and 44 states in the country participate. Phillips said he anticipates at some point all 50 states will join the program because of its high success rate.

As part of the training, each person was required to assemble the equipment and locate a certain frequency &8212; indicated by a high pitched chirping sound &8212; on the scanner in less than three minutes. Each mobile locator has a half-a-mile ground tracking range and is equipped with a back-up battery system in case of failure.

Phillips stressed the importance of continuing to search until a client is found. According to research, the survival rate of an individual over 65 after wandering for 24 hours is reduced to 50 percent.

The trainees were also tested on their knowledge of Alzheimer&8217;s and other conditions and how to approach clients with each condition in case of a search. For example, people with autism are often hard to communicate with and a prior personal relationship with a Project Lifesaver person is recommended.

Two members of the Project Lifesaver committee for Pilot Club, Charlotte Owens and Connie Squires, were present at the training. Owens said they have been able to purchase two mobile locaters and scanners, two sets of headphones and 12 bracelets, which are the tracking source for the clients.

The club began fundraising in July and has been going to city councils, the County Commission, businesses, churches and civic clubs to get their message out to the community for the need for such a program.

Owens said the club will continue to fundraise during the process of accepting applications from individuals in Marengo County. Once applications are submitted to receive a bracelet, the sheriff&8217;s office will determine which clients will get them.

In addition to Pilot Club members, Marengo County Sheriff Jesse Langley, Chief Deputy Tommy Reese, Deputies Keith Jordan, Clint Sumerlin, Harry Huckabee, Kenny Collier and Randy Sanders; Linden Interim Police Chief Scott McClure, Demopolis Policeman Donald Johnson, Marengo Fire and Rescue Squad member Denny Bayham and South Marengo Fire and Rescue Squad President Richard Rogers were all trained on the Project Lifesaver equipment.

If you would like to learn more about Project Lifesaver, please contact Charlotte Owens at 334-216-9207 or visit www.projectlifesaver.org.