On May 3, the Zonta Club of Franklin presented Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland with a $1,100 donation to the department’s Project Lifesaver Program. This is a search and rescue, rapid recovery program that targets persons enrolled in the program that have the tendency to wander due to Alzheimer’s, Autism, Dementia, Down Syndrome as well as age related macular degeneration (ARMD) disorders.
Project Lifesaver deploys radio technology to locate, rescue and return to home missing persons enrolled in the program. Each client enrolled in the Project Lifesaver Program wears a personalized wristband transmitter that emits a tracking radio signal 24 hours a day / seven days a week. Each wristband has a separate and unique radio frequency.
The Macon County Sheriff’s Office has four members that have been trained and certified as instructors and operators with six additional officers trained as operators of the search and rescue radio equipment in the event a client wanders and the Sheriff’s Office is alerted. Training was provided by designated Project Lifesaver trainers.
In addition to members attending the training for equipment and instructor certification, they also received training in the methods necessary to communicate with a person afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Dementia or a related disorder. Wanderers, when confronted, often will be disoriented, anxious and untrusting. The trained members of the Sheriff’s Office have been instructed on the most appropriate manner to approach the found wanderer, how to gain their trust and how to put them at ease for their return trip back home.
The Sheriff’s Office has two Project Lifesaver receivers that have the capability of being used by hand during a foot search as well as from a patrol vehicle mounted antenna in the event a vehicle search of a wider area is required. The highest priority is to make a quick and safe recovery of an enrolled wanderer in the shortest time possible. In addition, this program can reduce the time and cost of a traditional search from hours to minutes.