September 19, 2013 3:47 pm
“Ping, ping ping.”
The Project Lifesaver tracking device sent
radio signals from the wrist band attached
to Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas to the
locating device held by Porter County
Sheriff’s Department Capt. George Gonzalez
as a group of emergency response personnel
followed the sound throughout Valpo’s
downtown on Thursday morning.
The cat-and-mouse game was a way to show
care providers and emergency personnel the
capabilities of the system, which has been
offered in Porter County since 2006 but
currently only has 12 users.
“We think of people who wander away, those
with Alzheimer’s or dementia and this is an
insurance policy to get them home safely,”
Sheriff David Lain said.
He said that Project Lifesaver has
nationally logged more than 2,700 saves with
not one injury, which is meaningful when it
comes to these types of rescues.
“When a Project Lifesaver bracelet is not
involved there is a tremendous expenditure
of resources from emergency departments and
many times the rescue doesn’t end well,” he
said, noting a client who uses the system is
typically found within 30 minutes.
Costas was found after only about 15 minutes
in the parking lot of the old jail.
“I think the fact that I got three blocks
away and was found quickly shows the
effinciency of the program,” Costas said.
Lain said that the range of the device is
about two to five miles but up to a 10 mile
radius for air patrol.
“When we get a call from a caregiver to 911,
we dispatch our teams to go to the last
place the person was seen. They then circle
the geographic area until they pick up a
signal. The program has been used for a
number of years but we feel it is being
underutilized,” he said.
The Project Lifesaver program was initially
started with a donation and has continued to
operate with donations, Lain said, although
the bracelet devices cost around $300 each.
“We always give a new client one of those
transmitters free of charge. If there is not
a financial burden to the client we ask them
to pay for the next client to receive one,
so there is a pay-it-forward system,” said
Lain, who added his department funds the
monthly costs associated with the program.
For more information. visit
www.portertriad.com or the Porter
County Sheriff’s website.