Device can track elderly, children with disabilities who wander

Device can track elderly, children with disabilities who wander

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Law enforcement agencies in central Virginia are reminding families about a small device that can track loved ones who wander off following the disappearance of a six-year-old North Carolina boy.

It’s called Project Lifesaver, and in the 19 years the international program has been up and running, more than 3,400 people have been rescued, with a 100% success rate.

“The individual wears a transmitter on their wrist or ankle," said Chesterfield County Police Corporal Matt Rogers. "We have receivers we can plug in the individual’s unique number assigned to their transmitter and our piece of equipment can pick up the signal that they’re transmitting.”

More than 100 people in Chesterfield County are enrolled in the program through the police department.

"It works great,” Rogers said. “Every time we've had to go out we've always located them. It works very well."

"That's awesome, and if I have to help donate I will," said Lydia Green, of Richmond.

Green interacts with children on a daily basis.

When she thinks about the situation involving six-year-old Maddox Ritch in Gastonia, North Carolina, her heart breaks.

“I was shocked because I love children,” Green said. “I don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Rogers also remembers the search for Robert Wood Jr. in Hanover County back in 2011.

“It’s scary,” he said. “I mean having little children myself about the possibilities and how quick they can get away from you.”

Project Lifesaver is aimed at saving the lives of adults and children who wander off due to Alzheimer’s, Autism, Dementia, Down Syndrome, or other related diseases.

Rogers said a majority of the people who have signed up for the program in Chesterfield are children with autism.

Regardless of the age or the situation, the officers all have one goal in mind.

“We want to find them just as bad,” Rogers said. “We don’t want anything to happen to anybody.”

The most recent Project Lifesaver rescue in Virginia was September 19 in Culpeper for a person with dementia. The victim was found in five minutes.

“Usually the average time to find someone is between 20 and 30 minutes,” Rogers said.

The following agencies take part in the program:

  • Amelia County Sheriff’s Office
  • Caroline County Sheriff’s Office
  • Charles City County Sheriff’s Office
  • Chesterfield County Police Department
  • Colonial Heights Police Department
  • Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office
  • Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hanover County Sheriff’s Office
  • Henrico County Division of Police
  • Henrico County Sheriff’s Office
  • Henrico Fire Department
  • Hopewell Police Department 
  • Hopewell Sheriff’s Office
  • Hopewell Fire Department
  • James City Police Department
  • King George Sheriff’s Office
  • King William County Sheriff’s Office
  • Louisa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office
  • New Kent County Sheriff’s Office
  • Nottoway County Sheriff’s Office 
  • Petersburg Police Department
  • Petersburg Sheriff’s Office
  • Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office
  • Prince George Police Department
  • Prince George Sheriff’s Office
  • Richmond City Sheriff’s Office
  • Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
  • Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office
  • Surry County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sussex County Sheriff’s Office
  • Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Williamsburg Police Department

Richmond City Sheriff’s Office currently has 28 participants enrolled ranging from 5-82 years old.

The Chesterfield County Police Department will provide the radio-operated wrist transmitters to residents in the county who meet the criteria for obtaining one:

  • Resident of Chesterfield County
  • Have a full-time caregiver
  • Cannot be allowed to operate a motor vehicle

Participants will be charged a one-time administrative fee of $388.71.

For more information on Project Lifesaver, click here.

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