MOUNT VERNON — It’s not the latest technology, in fact it’s nearly 100 years old, but it’s helping law enforcement find clients that have wandered away from home.
Project Lifesaver is a program that uses radio telemetry to track individual transmitters on a band worn like a watch or a bracelet. The transmitter is assigned a frequency that can be used to track down the wearer should he or she leave home without the knowledge of their caregiver.
It is this old-school technology that Debbie McLarnan would like to see utilized in Knox County. McLarnan, wife of former commissioner Tom McLarnan, organized a meeting Thursday with the county commissioners, Capt. Dave Shaffer of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, deputies from the Licking County Sheriff’s Office and a few others familiar with the project, to encourage local officials to find funds and open the program to county residents.
She said her husband suffers from dementia, and possibly Pick’s Disease, and he tends to wander away from home.
“He doesn’t get lost, he just wanders and I don’t always know where to find him,” Debbie said. She added that she has tried several other tracking devices, including cell phone tracking, but nothing has worked. Her research, however, shows that Project Lifesaver works successfully.
Deputy Tim Caldwell of the Licking County Sheriff’s Office uses Project Lifesaver and currently has 40 clients on his roster. The average time it takes him, or someone from LCSO to find a missing client, is about 30 minutes. Caldwell said a 14-year-old autistic child that drove into the woods on an all-terrain vehicle was found in 25 minutes, a child with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder was found in 18 minutes, a Korean War veteran was found as he was returning home after his family reported him missing.
These searchers, if conducted under traditional methods, could take hours and require a large number of personnel, Caldwell said. With Project Lifesaver, for the most part, tracking can be handled by two people who basically serve as the eyes and ears with the tracking receivers.