Bringing them home: Police Department implements tracking system for special needs citizens

ST. GEORGE – The St. George Police Department announced Monday it has partnered with Project Lifesaver, an international organization dedicated to ensuring a safe homecoming when adults and children with cognitive disorders wander off or become lost.

“Citizens enrolled in the program wear a small transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal,” a press release from the SGPD said. “If the client goes missing, the St. George Police Department will dispatch its specially trained Project Lifesaver team to respond to the area.”

Project Lifesaver’s chief mission, according to the Project Lifesaver website, is saving lives and reducing injuries in cases where adults and children who are prone to wandering, due to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Down syndrome and dementia, wander off or become lost.

Thanks to Project Lifesaver, according to the Police Department’s press release, most such wanderers can now be located within a few miles of where they were last seen, and search times are typically reduced from hours to minutes.

“The average search time for Project Lifesaver clients is under 30 minutes,” the press release said, “95% less time than standard operations.”

The program is being implemented in the St. George area with support from the Southern Utah Autism Support Group, Utah Behavioral Services Inc., and the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society, according to the press release.

According to the Project Lifesaver website:

Project Lifesaver is the premier Search & Rescue (SAR) program specifically designed for ‘At Risk’ individuals who are prone to the life threatening behavior of wandering.

The St. George Police Department has received a grant from Autism Speaks, according to the press release, which has enabled the purchase of 10 transmitters for local autism clients.

“These transmitters will be issued very quickly,” the press release said, “and we will need to find money to purchase more.”

It costs $200 to provide one tracking device for a child with autism or Down syndrome, according to an announcement posted by the Southern Utah Autism Support Group to St. George News in October. The monthly fee per individual on the program is $25 for battery and band maintenance, the announcement said.

Those interested in donating to the program can contribute money at the St. George Police Department, 265 N. 200 East in St. George, or under the name “Project Lifesaver” at the City of St. George finance counter, 175 E. 200 N.

Anyone with questions about the program or wishing to enroll a loved one should call Officer Derek Lewis at 435-627-4358.

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8 Comments

  • sagemoon December 31, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Hmm, this might be a cause worthy of donations. I hope it works out well for all involved.

  • Koolaid December 31, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Implement tracking devices to monitor for illegal dancing, too?

  • Joe Smith December 31, 2014 at 11:20 am

    If only more of the mentally handicapped were as fair looking as the stock photo…

  • arts and letters December 31, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    The ugliness of so many comments to this paper just never seem to end.

    • Joe Smith December 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Uhm, the comments are the best part of the site. Don’t know why you say such a thing 🙂

  • evil twins mommy December 31, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    This sounds like a good plan to help those that need specific assistance. several times in the past it would of helped. I hope this works out and they get it going

  • Cynthia December 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    This sounds like a great idea. I was talking to my husband the other day about this. I wish we could have something like this to keep track of our little grandkids when we take them to Disneyland. It would be awesome!

  • S Steed December 31, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I think its awesome that the police are using our money to help fund this; but I really don’t see why they need to be involved. It seems to me that the data from the tracker should go to the caretaker and leave the police out of it. If the caretaker cant handle it they can call 911. This feels like a step towards RFID chips for all.

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