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Project Lifesaver rolls out

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Technology could help find lost alzheimer’s, autism patients

By Jesse Osbourne

The Washington County Emergency Management department is rolling out a new program just in time for Autism Awareness Month.
Project Lifesaver, which helps caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children, is now available for county residents.
Kevin Devine, the county’s emergency management director, said anyone interested in the program can now sign up to use the technology.
Devine told The Springfield Sun in December that “the caregivers can purchase a wrist watch type of thing to go on the wrist (of the patient) and it transmits a signal.”
Families would have to pay $300 for the transmitter, and an additional $8 a month to replace the battery and wrist band.
The only thing the caregiver is required to do is to check the transmitter each day to make sure it is working properly.
With the technology, rescuers can track a patient from a 1.25 mile radius.
Devine said the equipment also works under water. Rescue Squad commander Joe Carpenter said tracking can also be done from an airplane or helicopter.
Both men said the technology cuts down on time and manpower spent on searching without the equipment.
Carpenter and Devine also said they didn’t expect a lot of people to sign up for the wrist bands, but even one rescue would make the program worthwhile.
A demonstration of the technology was held after Friday’s fiscal court meeting.
Magistrate Benjamin Settles was equipped with the wrist band and given five minutes to find a hiding spot in downtown Springfield.
After the allotted time, a man hunt was launched for Settles.
Two groups split up to find Settles, and both converged on him behind a building, where he was laying beside what looked to be an air conditioner.
It took the teams about 15 minutes or less to find Settles.
The equipment comes to the county by way of a $5,000 grant. Devine said the county did have to pay for some training.
A booth will be set up at the Autism Awareness Month event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  on April 16 at Idle Hour Park.
Anyone wishing to obtain more information about Project Lifesaver should contact Devine at (859) 336-0746.