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Lawrence County Sheriff's Department Joins Project Lifesaver
Updated March 4, 2016 7:03 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Sheriff Mike Branham and the Lawrence 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.

Sheriff Branham says 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 in addition to firefighters and search & rescue personnel.

"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," Sheriff Branham says.

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

Sheriff Branham says 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.

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.

Sheriff Branham 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 Sheriff Branham, 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. For those families or caregivers cannot afford the service the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department has a limited number of transmitter available at no cost to eligible clients.

"We would like to thank our community partners in the project which will operate at no cost to the taxpayers first Hoosier Uplands for their initial financial support and their assistance in identifying adults who may be at-risk to wander," Branham says. "Second OLJMG Joint Services which helped identify children at risk in both Mitchell Community Schools and North Lawrence Community School system."

According to Sheriff Branham the service is now available to qualified persons in Lawrence County. Families and caregivers can enroll their loved ones by contacting contact Captain Andrew Phillips at (812) 275-3316.

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