Tracking program for vulnerable people is saving lives

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 10:19 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - A program called Project Lifesaver used by Wood County to track at-risk people is responsible for the quick recovery of a 12-year-old girl Wednesday. She wandered away from her family at Wildwood Park around 4:30 and was found about a mile from where she started.

People with conditions like autism or Alzheimer’s who might wander off can register for project lifesaver, a nationwide program where participants are fitted with a wrist or ankle band that transmits a signal that police and firefighters can track.

Because of the additional risk to vulnerable people, agencies throughout the area are alerted so response can be more intense.

“You pass so many ambulances, fire trucks, squad cars in the area because we were tracking this person and we had an area where she was, and within a few minutes after arriving we found her,” said Wood County Sheriff Shawn Becker.

Wood County joined the program after a boy with autism died from drowning in 2007.

Sheriff Becker says the added dangers to people who might wander make this kind of cooperation vital.

“In the area where we were searching yesterday, there was water in that area, so it was a great effort, and the teamwork that was involved was just awesome to see,” Becker said.

In Wood County eligibility can be determined by contacting human services. There’s a cost ut thbey want everyone who could benefit to take part.

“If somebody can’t afford it there’s scholarships available,” Becker said.

The sheriff’s department even keeps track of replacing batteries on every one of the bands about once a month.

“The biggest thing to highlight about what happened yesterday – the success of it was because of the teamwork, and saving a life, you can attribute that to this program,” Becker said.

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