Project Lifesaver Is A Success

The Oswego County E-911 Emergency Communications Center activated its Project Lifesaver (PLS) Program on two separate occasions this past month.

When the E-911 Emergency Communications Center receives a call that someone with a PLS transmitter bracelet has wandered off, the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department Project Lifesaver Personnel and the Oswego County Search & Rescue Team are dispatched. These units are specially trained to respond with PLS receiver units that pinpoint the lost client’s location.

The first activation occurred when an 81-year-old male client with Parkinson’s disease went missing from his home. His wife took a quick look outside and, without seeing him, called the Oswego County E-911 Emergency Communications Center to report her husband missing.

They immediately dispatched the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department Project Lifesaver Personnel and the Oswego County Search and Rescue Team while the 911 call taker obtained more information from the client’s wife. When the teams arrived less than 10 minutes later, they were informed that the husband had been located.

The teams tested the accuracy of the Project Lifesaver (PLS) equipment and confirmed that the client was nearby when the receiver “chirped” out a steady signal from his radio transmitter bracelet.

The second activation came when these two teams were called out to the home of a 9-year-old child with autism who had been reported as missing from his home. The child returned on his own prior to the arrival of emergency services personnel.

“Although these incidents did not require actually using the PLS equipment to locate the missing client, it was reassuring to both families and searchers that all of the agencies involved responded so quickly and were able to immediately know whether the client was in close proximity or not,” said Oswego County E-911 Director Michael Allen.

Oswego County maintains a contract with Project Lifesaver International, a not-for-profit organization that assists in the location of lost people who have Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome, dementia, autism and other cognitive disorders.

“We are fortunate to be able to provide this program in Oswego County,” said Linda Lockwood, chairwoman of the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee, “With donated funding, Project Lifesaver provides a quick response to save lives and reduce potential serious injury for residents who wander due to cognitive conditions.”

Lockwood continued, “The program provides our local law enforcement and public safety organizations with equipment, training and support while we perform the administrative duties associated with the program through our E-911 Emergency Communications Center.”

A local business recently made an anonymous donation of $900 to the Oswego County Project Lifesaver Program to purchase spare transmitters and establish a parts inventory.

“We hope that additional donations will be made in the future so that a fund can be established for those people who cannot afford the subscription cost,” added Lockwood.

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 disorders, all of which are essential to a successful rescue.

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.

In addition to regular training, Project Lifesaver develops public outreach programs to educate others about the issue of wandering. They constantly work toward developing public policy and effective law enforcement response to help save lives and “bring loved ones home.”

The Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee oversees the E-911 Office. In addition to Legislator Lockwood, the committee includes Vice Chairwoman Margaret Kastler, District 1; Shawn Doyle, District 3; Mary Flett, District 17; Kevin Gardner, District 13; John Martino, District 6; and Amy Tresidder, District 16.

For more information, call the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office at 315-349-3307 or 1-800-582-7583.