Two Liberty County families have an added measure of security for their respective autistic children after the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office managed to get two Project Lifesaver devices funded through a grant.
Project Lifesaver is designed to track and rescue people with cognitive conditions who tend to wander, providing a critical service for the families of children and adults traumatic head injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Down syndrome and dementia.
Clients enrolled in the service wear a wristwatch-sized radio transmitter on their wrist or ankle. The transmitter constantly emits a radio signal that can be tracked regardless of where the person is located. When the client is reported missing, caregivers notify locally trained agencies, which are dispatched to the wanderer’s area.
On Monday morning, the two new recipients were at Sheriff Steve Sikes’ office, where LCSO Capt. David Edwards fitted ach child with a device.
“It is an added measure of safety,” Vanessa Brown said as her daughter Madison, 6, was fitted with a bracelet. “Just knowing that she has the device on her is an extra measure of security.”
Brown said her daughter has not wandered off yet.
“But the mere fact that she is in public school and they have so many kids to watch over. … They do their best, but even when I went to her field day, I was worried and I was glad it was inside the gym. She and two other girls are runners, and they were running all over the place,” Brown said.
She learned about an incident that happened in New York that made her think about what could happen to her child.
“This young boy … he was able to walk out of the classroom, out of the school yard and I thought that this could happen to anybody’s child,” she said.
Brown said she started doing research and heard about Project Lifesaver from a family friend who also has an autistic child.
“She was talking about it and got me in touch with Capt. Edwards,” she said.
Dorothy Holness said she learned about Project Lifesaver when she attended a special-needs expo presented by the Liberty County School System earlier this year.
“Capt. Edwards was there speaking. I liked what he was saying, so I called him,” Holness said.
Her son Daniel did give them a brief scare once at home.
“We’ve only had one incident where he went to run out of the house,” she said. “My husband was in the back, and thank God he came out of the back and caught him in the hallway. But he does have incidents where he will run from the teachers at the school. … Normally they know where to find him, but just in case … you never know things could happen. It is nice to know that if he does wander off, they would be able to locate him.”
Edwards said he called Project Lifesaver officials to see whether any grants available that would fund a few devices.
“They said they happened to have a grant available for two autistic kids, so I asked them what we needed to do to get them,” he said.
He quickly got to work in submitting the paperwork enabling Brown and Holness to get devices for their children.
“I also have another pending grant for an Alzheimer patient, and I am hoping that will come through in the next couple of days,” Edwards said. “We get calls all the time from people who need the device and need some help, and this is one way the Sheriff’s Office can provide some help and give back to the community.”
Project Lifesaver came to Liberty County in 2011 when Sikes recognized the need and came across information about the organization in a magazine publication. Sikes has since helped implement the program in the surrounding communities, including on Fort Stewart.
“I know that these bracelets bring some peace of mind. … It’s been a blessing to a lot of people, and I wish more organizations would get involved with it and help us to promote it because they are expensive,” Sikes said. “But the peace of mind that comes with it is priceless.”
For more information, call Edwards at 408-3106 or Project Lifesaver at 1-877-580-5433, or go to www.projectlifesaver.org.