Project will help locate missing persons, sheriff’s department says

Imagine an electronic means of assisting law enforcement and rescue agencies in locating lost or missing persons who might have communicative disorders such as alzheimer’s disease, autism or dementia. Imagine how many potential tragedies could be averted, how many lives could possibly be saved.

Well, there may be no further need to simply imagine. Such a possibility is now reality, and will apparently be in service here soon, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

The sheriff’s department is partnering with Project Lifesaver International, which offers a radio transmission system designed to fulfill that mission.

“The program focuses on children and adults who have the propensity to wander from their homes and perhaps become lost,” said Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr., the sheriff’s department operation commander and public information officer.

Woods said a news conference on the program will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Gerald Robinson and PLI instructor Neil Johnson of Hudson, Wis., will discuss the project. Robinson said two families with members who are potential candidates for the service have been invited to attend.

Meanwhile, sheriff’s office personnel will be receiving program training Monday through Wednesday so that the system can soon be put to work if needed.

Project Lifesaver can help provide peace of mind to caregivers. However, it does not replace the need for supervised care, Woods stressed.

The Project Lifesaver transmitter is a small, circular radio device on a wristband, approximately the size of a wristwatch. The transmitters and wristbands are worn constantly and are difficult to remove without appropriate tools. If the participant becomes lost or missing, the sheriff’s department and emergency response services will have specialized tracking equipment to help isolate the location of the transmitter assigned to the participant.

The search will start from the last known location of the participant and work outward until the transmission signal is obtained. The goal is to determine the location of the signal in a quick, timely manner, minimizing the risk of harm to the loved one, Woods said.

“This program will assist our agency with maximizing search and rescue operations efforts while minimizing the length of time it takes for recovery of the lost,” Robinson said.