Project Lifesaver adds one

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2008

SWEET WATER &8212; Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Deputies made a house call to the second recipient of a Project Lifesaver wristband, the main component of a rescue program meant for those who suffer from Alzheimer&8217;s, autism, Down syndrome, are nonverbal or any other condition that would cause them to wander.

Sweet Water resident Viola Dunning, 93, suffers from Alzheimer&8217;s. With her new bracelet, daughter Joyce White no longer worries about her wandering from home.

Although her mother has not wandered long distances from home before, White said when she heard about the program, she knew her mother was a prime candidate.

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The sheriff&8217;s office started accepting applications for the bracelets in January, and has approximately 30 bracelets available for county citizens. Project Lifesaver clients wear the bracelet 24 hours a day, and its signal can be tracked by the Project Lifesaver Search and Rescue Team. Every 30 days a deputy checks the bracelet&8217;s battery and replaces the band.

This is large part to the efforts of the Demopolis Pilot Club, which began fundraising for the program in July 2007. 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 funding goals. One of the focuses of the Pilot Club is to support efforts for people affected by brain disorders and disabilities with volunteer activities, projects and fundraisers.

Training the search and rescue team began in October 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.

In all, 33 counties in Alabama participate in the program and 44 states participate. Since its inception, Project Lifesaver has conducted 1,645 searches with a 100 percent recovery rate. The most recent search on March 26 in Oneonta retrieved a client with Alzheimer&8217;s disease within 13 minutes of the client&8217;s disappearance.

For more information on Marengo County Project Lifesaver, contact the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Office at 334-295-4208.