Demopolis man receives first Project Lifesaver bracelet

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; With the help of some new technology and an extra hand from the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Office, Joyce Barnes will be able to rest a little easier in days to come.

Her husband Lawrence, 78, suffers from Alzheimer&8217;s disease, a condition known to cause its sufferers to wander away from home unintentionally. The last time Barnes wandered from home, it was the same day as his wife, Joyce, was visiting a friend in the hospital after a car accident.

But now, her husband is outfitted with an official wristband transmitter that is part of the new Marengo County Project Lifesaver Program, a preventative rescue effort meant for people who have Alzheimer&8217;s, autism, Down syndrome or who are nonverbal.

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If he were to wander off again, the signal transmitted from his bracelet, which he will wear all the time, would allow local law enforcement to track him down in a short amount of time.

According to Chief Sheriff&8217;s Deputy Tommie Reese, the best part of the program, which is just now being implemented, is there is no cost to the citizens of Marengo County.

This is in large part to the efforts of the Demopolis Pilot Club, who began fundraising for the program in July. In just a short period of time, the club collected donations from municipalities, civic clubs and businesses.

Most recently, the Pilot Club was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Pilot International Foundation, which put them well beyond their original fundraising goals. The focus of the Pilot Club is to support efforts for people affected by brain disorders and disabilities with volunteer activities, projects and fundraisers.

In October, training the Project Lifesaver Search and Rescue Team began with six sheriff&8217;s deputies, one representative from the Demopolis Police Department, one representative from the Linden police department, one member of the North Marengo Rescue Squad, one member of the South Marengo Rescue Squad and two members of the Project Lifesaver Committee.

The sheriff&8217;s office has approximately 30 bracelets for potential clients of Project Lifesaver. They are now taking applications to accept clients into the program.

In all, 33 counties in Alabama participate in the program and 44 states in the country participate. Since its inception, Project Lifesaver has conducted 1,645 searches with a one hundred percent recovery rate. The most recent search on Feb. 15 in Virginia Beach, Va. retrieved a client with Alzheimer&8217;s disease within an hour and a half of disappearance.

If you would like more information on Marengo County Project Lifesaver please contact the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Office at 334-295-4208.