LAURINBURG — With the help of the United Way of Scotland County, deputies may be able to better protect and serve elderly residents.
The Scotland County Sheriff’s Office got a check on Tuesday from United Way to assist with “Project Lifesaver,” a program that uses transmitting technology to locate people who may go missing due to Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia and other memory disorders.
Individuals are equipped with tracking transmitters that allows them to be located within 30 minutes. That rate is about 95 percent faster that previous methods, according to Sheriff Ralph Kersey. Users wear the transmitters in the form of a bracelet on the wrist or ankle.
He added that Project Lifesaver dramatically improves search efforts for the elderly or autistic.
“I got a call three weeks ago from the VA hospital in Hamlet and my dad was up there and he had no idea where he was,” Kersey said. “This is going to be a great program for him and for everyone.”
This program also saves the county money, Kersey said. “We don’t have to send officers and resources out and fan them out physically looking for people.”
United Way gave the department $7,070 from an anonymous grant that the United Way received for several programs, according to United Way Executive Director Debbie Grant. The money will be used to train officers to operate and read the transmitting equipment.
“Project Lifesaver is in 48 states right now,” said Carol Nichols, who serves as co-chair of the United Way board.
The company started in 2000 and has received 21 awards nationally.
“Project Lifesaver had 3,000 people located and all with no fatalities,” Kersey said.
Project Lifesaver is the sheriff’s office second effort unveiled this year using technology to better protect the community. The department implemented the “Are You Okay?” project in January that uses an automated calling system to check in on residents daily to make sure they are safe.
The service is free to the public and aims to better protect the elderly, children and those effected by domestic violence, Kersey said.
The program is also “saving taxpayers money by limiting the amount of officers responding to wellness checks everyday,” Kersey said.
If a registered resident does not answer the phone at the time they designated for “Are You Okay?” to call them, the Sheriff’s Office will be alerted. Before responding, the sheriff’s office will contact a neighbor to see if any suspicious activity can be seen.
“So far we have had three situations where we responded and all three times, medical attention was needed,” Kersey said.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-276-2311