CENTRAL SQUARE – The Oswego County Sheriff’s Department recently hosted a Project Lifesaver (PLS) training exercise at Goettel Park in the village of Central Square. The drill included members of Oswego County Search and Rescue along with the aviation unit for the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department’s Air 1 helicopter.
“The purpose of the drills is not only to test the functionality and accuracy of the PLS equipment, but to provide team members with practical field experience with it,” said Deputy Kristy Crast. “Regular training is a great way to be prepared to respond to an actual emergency.”
One team took a transmitter out into the park to start the first exercise. The three remaining teams began the “search” on land and from the air using two types of receivers. The car-mounted receivers are designed to pick up a signal within a quarter of a mile and the hand-held devices have a scanning radius of one mile. As the receiver “chirped” out a steady signal from the transmitter, the “lost” person was found in less than an hour. The teams continued their training with two additional full-scale exercises.
Oswego County maintains a contract with Project Lifesaver International, a not-for-profit organization that assists in the location of lost people who live with cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome, dementia, and autism.
“Project Lifesaver supports our public safety organizations, including county and local law enforcement agencies,” said Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd. “Through this program, we can provide a quick response to save lives and reduce any potential serious injury to our clients.”
Project Lifesaver training includes the use of specialized electronic search and rescue equipment as well as teaching rescuers how to communicate with individuals afflicted with these conditions, all of which are essential to a successful rescue.
“This is a terrific program for Oswego County residents who live with cognitive conditions,” said Linda Lockwood, chairwoman of the Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee. “The preparedness of our response teams provides assurance to clients and their families.”
Project Lifesaver works with more than 1,200 agencies across the United States, Canada and Australia. Together they have performed over 2,000 searches in the last 11 years with no serious injuries or fatalities being reported. This impressive success rate is due in part to rapid location. The average recovery time in the U.S. is just 30 minutes.
The Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee oversees the Sheriff’s Department and the E-911 Office. In addition to Legislator Lockwood, the committee includes Vice Chairman Robert Hayes, Sr., District 10; Mary Flett, District 17; Daniel T. Farfaglia, District 24; David M. Holst, District 4; Daniel LeClair, District 8; and Shawn Doyle, District 3.
For more information or to sign up for the Project Lifesaver program, call the Oswego County E-911 Office at 315-349-8215 or 1-800-679-3911.