LAURINBURG – Scotland County Sheriff’s Office will demonstrate a new program Saturday designed to aid the department in quickly locating at-risk individuals who wander off.
The Project Lifesaver demonstration takes place at Produce Market Park from 10 a.m. to noon.
Project Life Saver is a wristband designed to be worn by dementia patients, children with learning disabilities or other cognitive impairments that might put them at risk of wandering off. The waterproof band transmits a signal that can be quickly picked up by authorities in the event the wearer goes missing.
Sheriff Ralph Kersey heard about the program last year and began to look into it. The United Way heard what he was doing and donated money to cover the initial $7,000 needed to purchase the locater and training for six officers.
The initial purchase only came with four transmitter bands, so Kersey did not launch the program because he wanted to find a way to finance the program without charging subscribers. That’s where the Pilot Club came in.
“We are very blessed that the Pilot Club gave us a check for $2,100,” Kersey said. “The initial cost for the wristbands is $350 a piece and that includes a year’s supply and wristbands for the initial setup; after that first year, the cost would be somewhere between $45 and $50 to buy new wristbands and batteries.”
The program currently has nine bands available because Kersey has signed his elderly father up for the service. He said the family is fortunate that they have not had to use the trackers yet in the three weeks his father has been on the program.
Should the transmitters need to be used, Kersey said that they will greatly cut down on the time, money, and resources used to find the individual.
“Statistics show that in municipalities and sheriff’s offices that made this one of their programs that there have there have been no fatalities in over 3,000 searches, and most of those who have wandered off have been located in less than 30 minutes,” Kersey said.
The transmitter sends a signal out over a three-mile radius that can be picked up by first responders to swiftly locate the missing person.
In a typical search, first responders would start at the last place the victim was known to have been and perform a 360-degree search and continue from there. That type of search can squander precious time and resources looking in the wrong places, according to Kersey.
To qualify for the program, subscribers must be a resident of the county, live at home, have a caregiver, and provide a medical history.
Having a caregiver allows the sheriff’s office to be brought in sooner. If the subscriber lives alone days may pass before they are discovered to be missing.
“The sooner that you’re notified the higher the chance of finding them within a reasonable period of time,” Kersey said.
Kersey believes the savings to the department will pay for the program taking into consideration the cost of bringing in K-9 units, equipment and man hours for a typical search.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169