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Sheriff's office project will locate the lost

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
The sheriff's department is taking measures to ensure that Escambia Countians afflicted with Alzheimer's, dementia and other similar maladies can be located and brought back safely in the event they wander away from home.
The department, thanks largely to some generous gifts from the community, is moving forward with Project Lifesaver, which will see elderly people who have Alzheimer's-type symptoms equipped with tracking devices.
The devices are worn in the form of hard plastic bracelets, and will allow the department to locate a person who's wandered away from home quickly.
That's a big improvement over the current situation, in which such a case would call for a large, expensive and time-consuming search by deputies and volunteers.
But the tracking devices in the bracelets can be detected from a mile away on the ground, and from up to 10 miles away from the air. Smith said that Dale County has offered to loan Escambia its helicopter if it were needed for a search.
In getting Project Lifesaver up and going fully, Smith is asking that anyone in the county with a relative who could benefit from one of the bracelets give his office a call at 809-2141.
Getting that feedback from the community will help begin the process of gauging just how many bracelets are needed in the county.
The department is going to purchase five of the bracelets to begin with. Funding for the initial effort has been provided by McMillan Trust, the Finley Foundation and BankTrust, Smith said, with additional monies coming from the department's pistol fund.
The plan is that as the number of bracelets needed increases, businesses around the county will sponsor individual patients, so that the equipment can be obtained at no cost to those who'll benefit from it.
The bracelets cost $260 each, and the batteries that power them cost $96 for a year's supply. The sheriff's department will take responsibility for replacing batteries when needed.
Before a person is equipped with a bracelet, an application must be filled out, and a letter must be obtained from the patient's physician stating that they are at risk to wander.
It will take about five weeks to obtain bracelets once the paperwork has been completed.