TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A total of 32 officers know how to use the project lifesaver technology at the Leon County Sheriff's Office. They partner with the Alzheimer's Project who gives the devices to people who need them.
Recently 8 new recruits with the Leon County Sheriff's Office got trained on Project Lifesaver. The worldwide program has been around for more than 20 years, and it's been in Leon County for 15 through the Alzheimer's Project.
John Trombetta, executive director for the Alzheimer's Project said the device that looks similar to a watch sends out a radio signal that can reach further than a cell phone. "This works in a lot of places where your iPhone may drop coverage or things like that... think of forests, and rural areas, and places where you don't have cell towers," said Trombetta.
Gene Saunders, Founder and CEO of Project Lifesaver international said he started the program when he was working as a police officer in Virginia. Now the program is in all 50 states and in parts of Canada. He says he got the idea when he realized wildlife could be tracked, so he wanted to extend that technology to vulnerable people.
"When the bracelet is put on somebody, it stays on, it's not removable except by cutting it off," Saunders explained.
Saunders said Project Lifesaver can cut down the time it takes to search for a person with Alzheimer's, dementia, or autism. One example of that was finding a person in a minute and a half when it previously took about 9 hours to find that same person a month before without the tracker.
"You're cutting down on the amount of manpower, the amount of time, and the amount of money which equates to a whole lot more saved people that are brought home," said Saunders.
The Alzheimer's Project has about 30 devices total with 26 of them currently being used. Depending on the amount of interest, could mean there could be a wait list for the device but they have other options for people while they wait.
"We also have programs like scent evidence which is a scent kit," Trombetta said. "Different type of technology that can be effective in finding your loved one who wanders or elopes."
According to the Leon County Sheriff's Office all new recruits get Project Lifesaver training, and they recertify every two years.