BALLSTON SPA — On Sept. 29 the Saratoga County Sherriff’s office received a 911 call reporting that a 9-year-old boy with autism in Stillwater was missing. After a search that lasted a little over an hour, the boy, who is not being named, was found using Project Lifesaver technology and returned to his family.
Project Lifesaver is a radio transmitter placed on the wrist or ankle of individuals with special needs that emits an individualized frequency signal. If the person goes missing, the caregiver must notify the trained agency and they will respond to the individual’s location.
“It’s definitely a nice program to have. A lot of the families we talk to have comfort in knowing that there’s equipment out there to help locate their child,” Deputy Jason Lang of the Saratoga County Sherriff’s office said. Lang leads the Project Lifesaver program in Saratoga County.
According to Lang, the Project Lifesaver transmitter is waterproof and does not need to be charged, so it never comes off. Lang and his trained unit also visit the families who use Project Lifesaver technology every 60 days to change the battery of the equipment and to verify that it is working correctly.
“A lot of them are happy to know that its something that’s almost permanently on their
child; that doesn’t need to be charged, doesn’t need to come off and provides them a lot of relief,” he added.
Right now, Saratoga County has over 50 clients that use Project Lifesaver technology. Lang says it’s one of the largest programs in the state. There have been others in the county located using Project Lifesaver technology; one adult was found just in July of 2017. According to Lang the cost to enroll a loved one in Project Lifesaver is little to none, but prices vary based on location. However,
there are some factors that affect the individual’s eligibility to enroll. Lang says that the user must have close to 24/7 hours with a caregiver, cannot drive and cannot have long hours throughout the day where they are alone. He adds that children are usually all eligible.
Project Lifesaver was introduced to the Saratoga County Sherriff ’s office in 2015, the same year it was granted funding by the Division of Criminal Justice Services’ (DCJS) partnership with the New York State Missing
Person’s Clearinghouse. The Missing Person’s Clearinghouse is responsible for providing assistance to law enforcement agencies handling cases involving children, college students and vulnerable adults who have gone missing.
If you have a family member with autism, Alzheimers, Down syndrome, dementia or other cognitive conditions and are concerned they may wander, contact the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office at 518-944-6288 or email Jason Lang at jlang@ saratogacountyny.gov