Bertie invests #036;10,000 in ‘Project Lifesaver’

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2007

WINDSOR – It’s the worse news a family member can hear…their elderly loved one has wandered away from home and is lost.

Time is critical when it comes to locating a missing elderly person, especially one suffering from a medical condition. All too often in these cases, the ending isn’t a happy one.

In an effort to address the aforementioned scenario and to protect its senior citizens, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners have agreed to invest $10,000 in the Project Lifesaver program.

At last week’s commissioner’s meeting, Donna Ward, a representative of the Brian Center, pitched the Project Lifesaver program to the board.

“This will benefit all senior citizens, especially those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” Ward said. “Many families attempt to keep their elderly at home for as long as possible. Those elderly family members can wander off and become lost and confused. They may even fall and hurt themselves.”

Ward pointed out that search, and possible rescue, of those lost loved ones can take hours, maybe even days.

“Project Lifesaver reduces that to minutes,” she stressed.

The program is simple. Elderly county citizens, especially dementia or Alzheimer’s patients, would be fitted with a VHF transmitter contained in a wrist band, about the size of a watch. That device puts out a VHF signal that is tracked by a digital receiver capable of a mobile/foot search.

“As a former sheriff, this program would be great for our senior citizens,” Commissioner Wallace Perry said.

Bertie EMS member Wendy Swain, who was seated in the audience and was asked her opinion of the program, said, “I think it would be very beneficial. I’ve been on calls where senior citizens have wandered away and locating them quickly is very important.”

For Bertie County to implement the program, Ward said $10,000 was needed. For that price the county would receive a comprehensive two-day training course for law enforcement and public safety personnel as well as two sets of state-of-the-art electronic tracking equipment, including receivers, directional antennas, headsets and transmitters.

Ward further broke down the $10,000 into $6,000 for the training and equipment, $3,000 for additional transmitters (bracelets, priced at $300 each) worn by the elderly and $1,000 in other expenses.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said there may be some funds available in the Council of Aging budget plus tapping into the county’s $50,000 worth of contingency money.

Perry made the motion for the county to invest $10,000 in the project. His motion passed without objection.