Project Lifesaver

For more information: Please contact Heath Thomas about Project Lifesaver.

It is reported that there are over 4 1/2 million Americans with Alzheimers disease and half of these are in wandering stages. Alzheimer’s disease affects the short term memory. Symptoms usually involve forgetfulness, difficulty with abstract thinking, disorientation, personality changes, and loss of judgement. Patients begin to not recognize family and friends and tend to live in the past.

When a patient reaches the wandering stage, that of walking off from home and being unable to return, it can be a dangerous situation and it represents a critical emergency. The patient is at the mercy of the elements, be it cold, hot, water loss, or failure to take necessary medications.

Project Lifesaver is a program developed in 1999 by the 43rd Virginia Search and Rescue in Chesapeake, Virginia. Utilizing equipment developed by Care Trak, Inc., Project Lifesaver now has the ability to track Alzheimer’s patients that walk away from their home. The patient is fitted with a transmitter no bigger than a watch, which is worn on the wrist. The frequency is recorded by the attending agency, along with pertinent information about the patient. Should the patient walk away, the Care Giver notifies the agency and a search is begun immediately using the Care Trak CTR-1000 receiver. The signal from the transmitter can be picked up by ground and air patrol units and the patient can be located quickly. Search times that have normally been as long as days can now be reduced to less than an hour.

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office is a part of Project Lifesaver. Anyone who has a friend or relative with Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, or Down Syndrome (where a patient might be prone to wander away) who is interested in the Project Lifesaver program can contact the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office at (256) 582-2034. Agencies who are interested in starting Project Lifesaver in their communities, should contact Project Lifesaver, Inc. at (757) 432-4382.