Project Lifesaver in final development stages

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; What was once a simple fundraising idea will soon come to fruition for many people in the county on Monday. The Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Office will begin accepting applications for potential candidates for Project Lifesaver, a national rescue program to help people in Marengo County who have Alzheimer&8217;s, autism, Down syndrome or who are nonverbal.

Reese said the sheriff&8217;s office has encountered numerous cases of people wandering in the county. Before the Project lifesaver program, they often had to call for helicopter aid in searches. The new program will add precious time to the searchs as helicopters are in transit.

The Project Lifesaver program has been spearheaded by the fundraising efforts of the Demopolis Pilot Club.

According to Charlotte Owens, Pilot Club Project Lifesaver committee member, the club has raised over $14,000 in donations. The majority of the donations were from municipalities and communities in the area, she said.

With these funds, the club has

purchased 12 transmitter wristbands, which emit an automatic tracking signal 24 hours a day that is used to help locate and identify a person registered through the Project Lifesaver program should they wander from home or their caregivers.

The club also plans to do a presentation at their district convention to let other clubs know how they can get the Project Lifesaver program in their area, including telling how they raised enough money in only five months times.

In addition to the first 12 wristbands, the club purchased two sets of tracking equipment used to locate wristbands. In October, two Pilot Club members along with first responders and members of the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Office conducted training to use this equipment.

After applications are turned into the sheriff&8217;s office, a list will be compiled of who may be eligible for a wristband and they will decide, based on a priority system, who will receive the wristbands.

Thirty-three Alabama counties participate in the program and 44 states in the country participate. Since its inception, Project Lifesaver has conducted 1,645 searches with a 100 percent recovery rate. The most recent search on Jan. 16 in Fairfax, Va. retrieved a client with Alzheimer&8217;s disease within 15 minutes of disappearance.

If you would like to submit an application or learn more about Project Lifesaver, contact Chief Deputy Tommie Reese at 334-295-4208 or go to www.marengosheriff.com.