Virginia

More people signing up for "Project Lifesaver" tracking devices

Project Lifesaver brings more than 3,000 people home safely

WISE COUNTY, Va. - More and more people in our area are being tracked by law enforcement. We're talking about special devices that could save their lives.


Around the globe, these "Project Lifesaver" devices have helped emergency workers bring home, safely, more than three thousand missing people over the past 16 years.

The Wise County Sheriff's Department takes part in the program, and News 5's Kristi O'Connor tagged along for training this afternoon.

Since Wise County joined Project Lifesaver in 2002, the program has grown from tracking two people to now 18. News 5 found out how the trackers work.

Sergeant Charles Stapleton gives a transmitter to people with Alzheimer's, autism, and Down's Syndrome.

Each transmitter has its own frequency number, that way if a client gets lost, the receiver could track them down by number.

The louder the "chirping" sound, that means the closer law enforcement is to finding the missing person.

News 5's Kristi O'Connor wend wandering, over a hill, through the woods and into a metal shed. All while Sgt. Stapleton is inside the Sheriff's Department.

Then he went to find her.

"I'm at the last place she was seen about 5 minutes ago. so now I'm going to do a sweep," Sgt. Stapleton said.

Just seven minutes later, Sgt. Stapleton found her.

He says it takes about 30 minutes on average to find someone.

"It will pick up line of sight for about a mile, airborne it will pick up 5 miles," Sgt. Stapleton said.

He says timing is everything, most of the responsibility falls on the person's caregiver.

"If they find their client is missing, they have ten minutes to search. Then they call us," Sgt. Stapleton said.

Project Lifesaver is free to clients who cannot afford the devices. However, Sgt. Stapleton says they recently had to dip into the budget since so many new people have signed up. He says donations are always welcome.


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