WELCH, WV (WOAY) – Project Lifesaver is a nationwide program designed to help find people who are at risk of wandering.
Those with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other mental conditions are some of the most at risk.
According to Sheriff James Muncy, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department is taking part in the program once again after an eight-year hiatus.
“It’s a transmitter on their wrist, ankle or a piece of clothing,” Muncy said. “And if they wander, we have a receiver that picks that transmission up and locates them.”
The transmitter can be tracked up to a mile away and can even be tracked underwater. If anyone using the service ever goes missing, officers can find them with ease as long as they have a general sense of where they might be.
And in McDowell County, an aging population leads to more people at risk of Alzheimer’s or other disorders that can lead to wandering, and the Sheriff’s Department believes the program will help save lives.
“We have a generally older population in this county, so if they do have diminished mental capacity and they do wander, we can find them quickly.”
Classes are taking place at the Sheriff’s Department to train first responders on how the program works. These individuals will be examined and ideally teach others in their departments about how to use Project Lifesaver.
One of the trainees, Cpl. Donnie Perry, has some previous experience in wandering cases, and is hoping to find out more about the project.
“If someone goes missing, they can call 911 and we can go out and help locate,” Perry said. “Hopefully we can get them located before a tragedy occurs.”
Thanks to some funding from Reconnecting McDowell, the Sheriff’s Department has revitalized the program. And its available now for families to use.
“All they have to do is contact the sheriff’s office. We’ll send a deputy out to meet with them and see what we can do to get them into this program.”
The program costs roughly $300 per tracking device, but the Sheriff’s Department is hoping to offset some of the costs for those in need.