Tracking gear could be a lifesaver
Stuart News - 4/24/2018
ST. LUCIE COUNTY – The Sheriff's Office is partnering with a nonprofit group in an initiative designed to more quickly and efficiently find people with Alzheimer's disease, autism and other conditions if they wander away or go missing.
Sheriff's officials announced Monday they are working with Project Lifesaver International to become equipped with gear that uses radio telemetry to help find people who wander.
Gene Saunders, who works with Project Lifesaver International, said two decades ago when he was a captain with the Chesapeake, Virginia, police, his agency realized it wasn't so good in recovering people with Alzheimer's "before something tremendous or tragic had happened."
He said in trying to better find these people quickly and efficiently, he learned about how wildlife is tracked.
"Why couldn't we take that same technology and apply it to people who are at risk?" Saunders said. "We did that, and that was the start of Project Lifesaver International."
The gear uses a receiver and transmitter in wristbands, which emit a radio signal with a range of about a mile. A drone also can be used to increase the tracking range.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office uses a similar program known as SafetyNet Tracking Systems, spokeswoman Laurie Weber said.
Police in Vero Beach and Stuart don't participate in Project Lifesaver International, while police in Sewall's Point and Port St. Lucie do, representatives of those agencies said. Fort Pierce police Monday did not respond to an inquiry regarding Project Lifesaver International.
In a 2015 interview, an Indian River County Sheriff's official said his agency for at least eight years participated in Project Lifesaver International. Maj. Eric Flowers, Sheriff's Office spokesman, said the program is still in use.
Saunders said the program is in more than 1,600 agencies in all 50 states, and in Canada. More than 3,400 people have been rescued with it, he said.
Project Lifesaver International is headquartered in St. Lucie County.
The program is free. For more information, contact the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office.