Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Project Lifesaver
A Lifeline For Those Who Wander

by Carrie Bishop

January 01, 2013

If you have a child or family member at risk of wandering away, you need to know about Project Lifesaver. The program exists to save lives and reduce potential injury to kids and adults who wander due to autism, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injuries and other special needs that prevent them from knowing how to get back home.According to David McCormick, Project Lifesaver Coordinator for Hamilton County, a search and rescue effort that once took 24 to 48 hours now takes his team 17 minutes on average. That’s from the time 911 dispatchers connect with the emergency responders.

Indianapolis Program Coordinator, John Fultz, says his team has a 100 percent success rate in finding program participants. As of mid-November, the team had conducted 110 searches for the 2012 year, sometimes handling multiple searches at the same time. “We are here to help the community and give them a peace of mind so when they go to sleep or live their daily lives they know someone else is helping them protect their loved one.”The way it works is simple. Program participants are given a small band to wear around their wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If the person wanders, the family can dial 911 and tell the dispatcher their loved one is enrolled in Project Lifesaver and is missing. A trained emergency team will be contacted immediately.The radio frequency transmitter emits a signal at all times. “If they come in missing we dial in their frequency number and we find them that way. Once a month the crews go out and train with the equipment to make sure they and their equipment are up to standards,” said Fultz.The program also keeps tabs on clients’ medical histories and past experiences with wandering so emergency responders are better able to help the person when lost or upon rescue. “Knowing the medical history makes a difference in how we respond and what we are looking for when someone is missing. It helps in the search,” said Todd Harper, Public Information Officer with Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services.Costs for program participants vary from agency to agency, but efforts are made to keep fees to a minimum. There is a $300 start-up fee for new clients served by Project Lifesaver Indianapolis. This covers the cost of the transmitter and a year supply of batteries and bands. Hamilton County is able to cover the cost for its residents.There are more than 1,200 participating Project Lifesaver agencies in the U.S., Canada and Australia. For more information or to find the Project Lifesaver agency that serves your neighborhood, visit www.projectlifesaver.org or www.projectlifesaverindy.org. Like your local agency on Facebook to stay informed of important updates.