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Greene Co. Sheriff's Department Kicks Off Project Lifesaver To Protect Greene Co. Citizens
Updated December 15, 2015 12:18 PM
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(BLOOMFIELD) - Sheriff Mike Hasler and the Greene County Sheriff's Department are on a mission to provide a new service for people with cognitive conditions and the families that love them.

It's called Project Lifesaver - a program that will provide a bracelet that emits an electronic tracking signal, for people who have a tendency to wander off, and it will put a radio receiver to pick up those signals in the hands of rescuers who are trying to find them.

Hasler told the Greene County Daily World that individuals with various cognitive disabilities and conditions, such as Alzheimer's, autism, Down syndrome or dementia, sometimes have a tendency to wander off, and when they do, it's a terrifying situation for their caregivers and family members. No matter how closely an individual is watched, this situation can come about and families don't know which way to turn.

When law enforcement is contacted, deputies and reserves respond along with officers from local departments, and firefighters and search and rescue personnel, and possibly others.

"Time is of the essence," Hasler says "This is not something we deal with every day, but there's not an officer that has not been faced at some point with this situation, and it's challenging."

When it does happen, Project Lifesaver can give rescue personnel the technological tools that could make the difference between life and death.

Hasler said statistics show that with the Project Lifesaver equipment, the average search time is 30 minutes. Without it, that search time increases to hours, and sometimes days.

Hasler is waiting on the equipment to be delivered and training to be completed.

The initial cost of the start-up is around $4,800. That will provide two receivers for rescue personnel and two transmitter bracelets for at-risk individuals, plus a standard antenna, vehicle antennas, power cables, battery testers, holsters, cases, headsets and all necessary assorted tech equipment. It also provides basic training for seven officers and training for a local instructor who can train others in the county.

Additional receivers, or locators, cost around $1,000. Additional bracelets cost around $300.

Hasler explained the tamper-proof bracelets that weigh one ounce emit a signal 24-7 and have a battery that should be replaced every 60 days at a cost of about $3.

When someone wearing a bracelet becomes lost, the family will contact the sheriff's department, then the individual's data will be entered into the system, and officers will go into the field with the receiver to pick up that individual's radio signal.

The range of the equipment, and the radio signals, according to Hasler, depends on the climate, the weather conditions, and the terrain. He also specified that this system does not work for an individual who is driving a car. This system is for individuals who are wandering on foot.

The cost is in the initial start-up kit to get the system going, and in providing bracelets to all who need them. The cost to maintain the system is minimal.

No tax dollars will be involved in funding the project. It will run on donations and fundraising efforts.

After the start-up phase, donations and fundraising efforts will keep it going.

Hasler says he'd eventually like to add additional receivers in the county, but two will do for now. However, two bracelets are not enough.

According to Hasler there are 10 individuals with autism in Greene County that are in need of this protection right now. He admits there are probably several more individuals, plus individuals with Alzheimer's, dementia or other conditions that would benefit from having the tracking bracelet.

Hasler does not want to charge the families for the bracelets, because many are under tremendous financial burdens.

In Greene County, if a family has someone they're concerned about and they are interested in protecting their loved one through this program, they should contact the Greene County Sheriff's Department at 812-384-4411. GCSD First Deputy George Dallaire and IDACS Coordinator Kelly Portteus are heading up the project and can answer questions and provide more information.

Contributions to Project Lifesaver would be appreciated. The Greene County Foundation is accepting donations and placing any money collected through fundraisers in a fund dedicated to maintaining the program.

Donations may be sent by mail to: Greene County Foundation, 4513 West State Road 54, Bloomfield, IN 47424.

To designate the donation is to be used for this program, include a note on the memo line of the check that specifies "Project Lifesaver."

All donations are tax-deductible.

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