Project Lifesaver helps local deputies find missing, vulnerable people

Project Lifesaver helps local deputies find missing, vulnerable people

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - When it comes to protecting South Carolina's most vulnerable, Lexington County has a new way to help find those who go missing.

Project Lifesaver is designed for those who are more inclined to wander away from home. Whether it's Alzheimer's or autism, the Lexington County Sheriff's Department is preparing its deputies to find those who suffer from these illnesses quickly and safely if they go missing.

"It's as light as a wrist watch," said Tim Parcheta of the Lexington County Sheriff's Department. "There's a 60-day battery."

Each band has a unique code for each person who wears the device.

"It's actually transmitting a radio frequency so we're tracing the right individual," Parcheta said.

Using a receiver, deputies can track the device within a one-mile radius. They start with where a person was last seen or known to visit regularly.

"The average search time is broken down to no more than 35 minutes that it takes us from the time we get on scene to locate the individual," Parcheta said.

When someone is diagnosed with dementia or related Alzheimer's, it's a whole new world for the patient and caregiver.

"We have had phone calls where maybe the person is in the home with their loved one and then, in an instant, they're gone," said Alzheimer's Association Midlands Program Director Sheila Lewis.

It's a scary reality for nearly 80,000 people who live with the disease in South Carolina.

"Until we find a cure for this disease, we have to help the caregiver because, as I said, it can be a very long journey," Lewis said.

Deputies say "Project Lifesaver" is a valuable tool that can help find a vulnerable adult or an autistic child who gets lost. Right now, the department has about 15 devices and each one is currently in use.

Each device is free for residents, but the department relies on donations to be able to provide them to the community.

The Sumter County Sheriff's Office has been using the program for several years.

Copyright 2016 WIS. All rights reserved.