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Project Lifesaver being implemented in Lowndes County

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, thanks to the persistence of Captain Bonessa Davis and Sergeant Vernecia Thicklin, will be implementing a lifesaving device for people in the community with declined mental ability.

Project Lifesaver was implemented to help locate citizens with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Autism, Down Syndrome, and other cognitive conditions.

Cpl. Kent Smith, tactical flight officer, and Shane Hobbs, ALEA pilot senior, were on hand last Thursday to educate and train Lowndes County officers on the project. Smith and Shane work with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and patrol the sky using helicopters and planes.

“A search for a person with Alzheimer’s or similar mental condition takes approximately nine hours on average nationwide and costs approximately $1,500 depending on the number of officers involved,” Smith told the class. “That figure goes up significantly if air support is needed. However, the average time to locate the person wearing a bracelet is 15 to 30 minutes and can mean the difference between life and death.”

The project provides bracelets that are set at a specific frequency. That frequency and citizen’s information is stored in a database for the county. If the person wearing the bracelet wanders off or becomes disoriented and is unable to find their way home, officers can access the database and obtain the person’s specific information needed to track them through the bracelet. The batteries in the bracelet work for 60 days and can be easily changed. The bracelet is extremely sturdy and once snapped on, cannot be removed unless it is cut off.

“The bracelets provide caregivers with some much needed relief and decreases the mountain of stress they are under,” Smith said.

Smith lead the class and educated the officers on different cognitive issues and signs to look for when dealing with the public. Smith and Hobbs demonstrated the bracelet and tracking equipment to the class. The officers were able to do field training as well, learning how to use the tracking radar to track moving objects that are walking or in a vehicle.

The program is paid for by private and corporate donations. A group called the Energizers, retired Alabama Power employees and their spouses, have raised more than $150,000 for the program in the last 15 years. Project Lifesaver sets up a donation account for each county allowing all donations made toward the project to stay within the county. Donations can be made to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office by check made to Project Lifesaver, in the memo of the check list Lowndes County.

If you think you or a family member may qualify for Project Lifesaver, please contact the Lowndes County DHR or the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.