Operation Lifesaver, Game Changer For Families in Richland

Columbia, SC (WLTX) It's being called a game changer for families with loved ones who wander away.

"All Richland County Units Project Lifesaver has been activated. All responding units to the Project Lifesaver turn over to channel 7."

The moment a call comes in of a missing person on Project Lifesaver, a rescue plan is set in motion. Implemented in Richland County in 2007, the program offers family members of a loved one labeled an "at risk wanderer" a minimal response time while cutting back on resources used.

"Now you're talking about scaling down to maybe 9 and you're able to do that work in less time and find that person as quickly as possible. That's a big game changer, " said Richland County Sheriff deputy Curtis Wilson

So far 34 people have been equipped with a Project Lifesaver wristband that can be tracked by foot or by air. Searchers follow a series a beeps that grow louder and more clear the closer they get to their missing person.

"Each bracelet has its own frequency just like a radio station dial and it sends out this signal where we're able to locate and pinpoint using this system," said Wilson.

With nearly 3,000 searches under the program's belt and a 100% recovery rate, more and more departments are becoming trained on how to use Project Lifesaver. Those who qualify range from Alzheimer's patients to children with down syndrome or autism.

"Time is of the essence and once they're out there we want to make sure we're able to track and locate them as soon as possible. Project Lifesaver is that element," said Wilson


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