The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the RT Autism Awareness Foundation to bring Project Lifesaver to families of those with special needs. Project Lifesaver International was founded in April 1999 and dedicates its service to protecting those that tend to wander or become lost. Clients on the program have a variety of disorders including Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, Autism and traumatic brain injuries. Nationwide, Project Lifesaver Search Teams have been called into action more than 2200 times and still maintain a 100% success rate of locating the client and returning them to their loved ones alive, with an average recovery time around 30 minutes!
The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office brought Project Lifesaver to this county in April 2007 and serves as the hub for Southeastern Minnesota. The technology behind Project Lifesaver is simple. A transmitter (about the size of a wristwatch) emits a signal specifically designated for each client. The client wears the transmitter, usually on their wrist or ankle. If the client bolts or becomes lost, as often found in Autism and Alzheimer’s cases, the client’s caregivers can call 911 to activate the Project Lifesaver Search Team. The Search Team consists of Deputies from the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and Officers from the Rochester Police Department who are professionally trained in the operation of Project Lifesaver search equipment along with search and rescue techniques. The Olmsted County Project Lifesaver Team has been called into action more than 20 times since program inception. We have had two searches where our Search Team located the client by using the specially designed search equipment; finding the client unharmed and returning them to their loved ones safely. In other incidents, the client was found, within minutes of the 911 call being placed, by family or friends and before our search equipment could be deployed.
Project Lifesaver is inexpensive and gives piece of mind to families of those with special needs. There are very few responsibilities the client’s family or caregiver will have, but those responsibilities are important! Each family is assigned a Deputy or Officer to be their contact person while their loved one is on the program. Each Deputy or Officer is responsible for all maintenance and battery changes of the transmitter. Depending on the type of transmitter, battery changes are every 30 or 60 days. We even take steps to ensure your loved one’s transmitter is working properly when you do not see us! Monthly a deputy will visit the client's residential area to do a signal search to make sure we are receiving a good signal from each client. This also helps us make sure our equipment is working properly. We currently have over 70 clients enrolled in Project Lifesaver - Olmsted County.
If you would like more information regarding Project Lifesaver or if you would like an application for Project Lifesaver, please visit www.rtautismawareness.org and follow the links in order to complete an application. Grant funding is available; please ask your Olmsted County Social Services advocate.