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POSTED: May 20, 2010 9:05 a.m.
In light of the recent tragedy with local Alzheimer’s patient Elvin Mosley, the Bryan County Project Lifesaver Program is now in the forefront. The program is a rapid response public safety program that helps protect and locate persons who are prone to wander. Designed to track and rescue those with cognitive conditions who tend to wander, this service answers a critical need for protecting people at risk of wandering, including those with Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome, dementia and other disorders.
Clients enrolled in the service wear a wristwatch-sized radio transmitter on their wrist or ankle. The transmitter constantly emits a radio frequency signal, which can be tracked regardless of where the person has wandered -- even into a densely wooded area, a marsh, a concrete structure such as a garage, or a building constructed with steel. When a loved one goes missing, caregivers notify locally trained agencies, and they are dispatched to the wanderer’s area. The average rescue time remains around 30 minutes.
Project Lifesaver International, the leading organization in electronic search and rescue (SAR) programs, conducted the mandatory training for Bryan County Sheriff’s Department in February 2010, and the program officially began in Bryan County in March. The organization continues to provide certification, ongoing management and support to our local sheriff’s department. This training included teaching public safety officials how to use the equipment and how to gain the trust of and communicate with people who wander, as well as to ensure that caregivers are well versed in the program – all of which are essential to a successful rescue.  
Together, Bryan County Sheriff’s Department and Bryan County Family Connection began researching the Project Lifesaver Program after the disappearance of Pembroke resident Emma Carroll in July 2009. The program was started in Carroll's honor.
With the help of both Chatham and Bulloch county sheriff’s departments, who also participate in the program, Bryan County Sheriff’s Department was able to become a certified Project Lifesaver agency.
“We look forward to serving the residents of our county with this program -- it brings peace of mind,” said Sheriff Clyde Smith. “We’ve seen the program in action and we know it works.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. One in eight people 65 or older, suffer from the disease. Sadly, these numbers are on the rise as the “baby-boomers” age. Bryan County, according to the 2000 census, has over 250 residents with Alzheimer’s -- more accurate numbers will be available soon. Six out of 10 people with the disease will wander. Project Lifesaver strives to bring peace of mind to families and provide 24-hour protection.  The mission of the program, “Bringing Loved Ones Home,” is evident:  The program currently has over 1,100 participating agencies with 2,122 rescues -- 100 percent success rate.  
While Mosley was not a participant in the Project Lifesaver program, the Mosley family is encouraging families to seek more information on the program and how it can help save lives.  This service is currently available for any Bryan County resident who meets the minimum qualifications.  Families and caregivers can learn more about the program and enroll their loved ones by contacting me at 653-3824.  
For more information, please contact Bryan County Sheriff’s Department at 653-3800 or Project Lifesaver International at 1-877-580-LIFE (5433) or www.projectlifesaver.org.

About Project Lifesaver InternationalEstablished in 1999, Project Lifesaver International is a non-profit organization that is committed to helping families quickly find their loved ones who wander because of Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome, dementia, and autism. Headquartered in Chesapeake, Va., Project Lifesaver works with local law enforcement agencies in more than 1,000 communities in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Canada to protect some of society’s most vulnerable citizens. PLI provides training and support to all agencies and continues to work with organizations on education and awareness regarding the issue of wandering.


 

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