WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - People who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's disease, autism and Down's syndrome can easily wander away from their caregivers and find themselves in harm's way, but with Project Lifesaver, finding them fast, safe, and sound can be a lot easier.
"It's a transmitter system. We have frequencies for different persons and it enables us to go the place where they were last seen," explained Lieutenant Scott Snapp of the Washington County, Va. Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's department offers the free program to people who live in the area, but Monday evening they put themselves to test by sending one of our crew members out with the transmitter with the hope of finding him as quickly as possible.
It started at 5:02 p.m., when a call came in to dispatch that he had disappeared. "I left him in the car for a few minutes and when I came out he was gone," said the acting caller.
Moments later at 5:10, all of the officers in the area received a text message saying that he had gone missing. They immediately packed up the special receiver which will zone in on the transmitter he is wearing based on his frequency number.
At 5:37 at the officers hit the streets. "Go down Lee Highway and go down Dominion Road that way, and see if you pick up something over near Larry Hill," said a Washington County, Va. deputy taking part in the simulation.
Twelve minutes later at 5:49, the officers found the signal.
At 5:55, 53 minutes into the exercise, they found him in wooded section in a nearby neighborhood. It only took them six minutes to find him from the time they picked up the signal.
"Without him wearing the transmitter it could have taken hours, days. If the homeowners who would have been nearby wouldn't have know he was there, let's say bad weather or something, he may have not been found. It depends on the type of person you're looking for," said Snapp.
The test was conducted in conjunction the Bristol, Va. Police Department. The program is free of charge to the patients.
Project Lifesaver was started in 1999.
Both Bristol, Va. and Washington County, Va. law enforcement agencies can serve up to 14 people each.
If you are interested in the public service, you're asked to contact your local law enforcement agencies to see if they offer Project Lifesaver or click here for more information.