Project Lifesaver - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

6-19-08 - Nacogdoches

Project Lifesaver

by Donna McCollum

A personalized radio transmitter worn on the wrist and a mobile antenna. The system is called Project Lifesaver. www.projectlifesaver.org When the two devices connect, a chirping sound is heard. That sound can create a sense of relief. The technology has an impressive track record for locating wandering Alzheimer's patients to autistic children.

A Pilot Club member and former law enforcement member, Susan Riedsel explained, " Internationally, the success rate is 100%. No one has been found dead or injured. Also your time, they've all been found in less than 30 minutes. "

The Pilot Club of Nacogdoches is raising money to purchase the first of several tracking units. They first sought the support of local law enforcement. They're often the first ones to receive a frantic call from a caregiver. Club director, Betty Shinn recalls when her father once wandered away in another city.  " It scared me. There was no way they could find him. They did put this bracelet on him and of course, the fear of God was put in him by his two daughters, so he never wandered again, " said Shinn.

Law enforcement become members of rapid response teams. They learn to track a person around the block or around the nation. Coding numbers can be linked with other participating communities. Nacogdoches Police Sgt. Greg Sowell's mother had Alzheimer's. He would have used the device if it had been available at the time.  " The technology that we have today, we knew this was coming and it's finally here. We have an opportunity to grab hold of it and the police department--we're ready to go, " said Sowell.  

Two complete sets cost $5,000. Pilot Clubs all over the nation purchase them to loan to families.so far the technology has helped teams conduct over 1300 rescues.

Angelina, Greg, Smith and Harrison counties have or are working toward establishing project lifeline programs. The goal is to connect all of East Texas.  

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