A program combining radio technology with life-saving rescue teams from local law enforcement is now in place in Ottawa County.

“Project Lifesaver,” a program which partners the Ottawa County Sheriffís Office and the Miami Pilot Club, is designed to assist in the location of citizens suffering from Alzheimer's, Down's Syndrome and Autism.

Participants in the program wear a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal, according to Ottawa County Sheriff Terry Durborow. When caregivers notify program administrators that the banded person is missing, a search and rescue team responds to the participant's area and starts searching with a mobile locator tracking system.

“Ottawa County is one of the first communities in Oklahoma to implement the project,” Durborow said.

“In March of 2005, a 71-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with dementia walked away from her Wyandotte home sometime in the early morning hours,” Durborow said. “We received the call at 8:28 a.m. and a search was initiated with ground units as well as a helicopter. At approx. 10:53 a.m. the woman was found, she had fallen off a bluff and was lying on the bank of the Neosho river. Life flight was contacted and she was taken to Saint John's Hospital. The vicitim, however, later died from her injuries.

Durborow said “Project lifesaver” will provide assistance in similar situations. The individual will wear a bracelet with the latest radio transmitting technology; officers have been trained in the use of special locating equipment and in search and rescue techniques.

“Hopefully, we can improve our time in finding the individual from hours or days to minutes,” Durborow said.

More than five million people in the United States have Alzheimer's and related disorders, according to health officials. That number is expected to triple by 2050 according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The partnership between the Ottawa County Sheriff Office and the Pilot club includes fund-raising efforts led by the club, allowing for the purchase the equipment for use by the Sheriff Office as well as providing volunteers to inspect the equipment monthly.

“I can see many benefits of this program as I continue to explore new and innovative ways to protect the citizens of Ottawa County,” Durborow said.

For more information, contact Sheriff Terry Durborow (918) 542-2806.