The Roanoke Rapids Police Department through its police club is beginning a fund-raising effort to bring Project Lifesaver to the community
Project Lifesaver is a community-based, public safety, non-profit organization that provides law enforcement, fire/rescue, and caregivers with a program designed to protect, and when necessary, quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the life-threatening behavior of wandering.
Chief Shane Guyant outlined the program to the city council Wednesday evening. “It’s not something we’re trying to get the city to pay for. We’re actually considering this a community event where the police department is working with the community to try to raise to try to pay for this particular item.”
Guyant said the organization recognizes there is a large majority of the population who have autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, PTSD as well as other cognitive conditions.
The police chief said in February around the 400 block of Madison Street an autistic juvenile went missing. In July on the 300 block of Webb Hill an adult male with dementia was missing for 24 hours before he was found.
Over the weekend a person with cognitive issues in the 300 block of Madison Street went missing and was found eight hours later.
In the county two individuals were missing — one missing for a few days but was found in poor health. “The other was a 9-year-old autistic child who walked away from their home. Luckily, the little child loved the rescue squad — the ambulance.; They rode the ambulance up and down the highway and the child came out of the woods because they saw the ambulance.”
When Guyant was with the sheriff’s office a person went missing before Christmas and has not been found.
“When we have a delay in trying to locate them their chances of survival go down dramatically,” Guyant said.
Sergeant Joey Spragins, who is head of the police club, came to the chief with this idea and they have been working on fundraising by seeking private money from the community to pay for Project Lifesaver “that could help those in the Roanoke Valley — not just in Roanoke Rapids but in the county and Northampton County.”
Project Lifesaver includes a bracelet called a transmitter. Then there is a receiver which hones in on the transmitter. “If a patient is missing we can get into the area and we can start searching for these patients. The sooner we find out about this, the sooner we can get to the location that they were last seen.”
The receiver works within a mile radius, Guyant said. From the air it works from a three- to five-mile radius.
The fundraiser will be for a local Project Lifesaver kit. Currently the closest Project Lifesaver program is in Emporia. “The purpose is to help communities in the Roanoke Valley to have a resource for locating people that have a tendency to wander.”
The goals are to streamline search and rescue procedures and to save lives. “We strongly feel that this particular device that has been around for 20 years and has countless examples of saving lives — we feel it’s time to bring that to the area.”
The cost of the initial kit is $4,500 and comes with two receivers and two transmitters. It comes with two-day basic operator training for up to seven officers. The cost of training the officers is $1,800.
Each individual band is $345. “If we raise $6,300 we’re able to have the $4,500 start-up equipment, we have the funds to pay for the training. Then we have to start raising money to get the transmitters for the individuals.”
Guyant has reached out to the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce and planned to reach out to another organization this evening. “The police department is really strongly wanting the community to get involved in raising funds for this particular project because this is a community thing — it’s not a city thing. This needs to involve people in Halifax and Northampton as well as the city of Roanoke Rapids. We just want to be the ones to spearhead this and get this going.”
The band gives people with cognitive impairments their feeling of independence, Guyant said. “If I knew they had this band on them that in case they did get missing I know I could call somebody that could really help me find my child.”