My friend Nicole was talking about a program on Twitter, and I had to go see it for myself.
Project Lifesaver is meant to be a tracking program for special needs children and adults. It provides a GPS monitor for family members to keep track of their loved ones. Sadly, there is a waiting list in Chatham County due to the lack of police and fire fighter volunteers, who are responsible for visiting the patient once a month to change their GPS battery. It seems like such a small commitment to make, so why the shortage?
If you know a policeman or fire fighter in the Chatham County area, encourage them to get involved. Without them, children like Jack will continue to sit on a waiting list (he was told two years) until someone is willing to help.
UPDATE: Jack’s mom sent me this email that was sent to her when she questioned the long wait list:
We apologize for the waiting list, and if you would not like to have your son on the list please let us know.
The waiting list for Project Lifesaver is not based upon any monetary issues. We are limited to the number of clients that are allowed into the program because of manpower constraints. Project Lifesaver is a aid to recovery that we have taken on as a additional duty to the Sheriff’s Departments already heavily loaded assignment of serving the courts here in Chatham County, with civil processes and criminal processes and handling day to day functions of the Sheriff’s office.
I myself am the Explosive Incident Specialist for our County, K-9 trainer for our Department and Instructor for our statewide K-9 academy that has over one hundred officers attending annually, and respond to all bomb threats and suspicious packages in our County. All of our officers have similar additional duty loads attached to them as well.
The manpower constraint is the Deputy basically arriving once a month to change a battery and update a client informational packet, so we are aware of behavior changes or increased wandering tendencies with the individual.
Not a lot of work at all, but with twenty-five clients at twenty minutes a person this adds up to five hours of these Deputies time allowed to get their primary job done. We are elated to have what we have now with this program, considering that a year and half ago there was nothing in Chatham County. I understand what you are feeling, my daughter has Asbergers Syndrome and our Pilot for Mosquito Control has a Autistic son.
We are working diligently to get our Sheriff’s Department reserves on board with us to assist with battery changes on weekends, these are officers that volunteer their time free of charge during weekdays and weekends to maintain their peace officer certifications and help us out. This we hope will add ten more clients to our program, taking us to thirty five. Southside fire department on the Landings has partnered with us and will be managing a few clients, maybe ten or so on the Landings. We believe in this project and ask that you are patient with us and the program and understand that we truly do all we can in this effort to safeguard at least of few of the over 6000 folks in Chatham County with Alzheimer’s/Dementia and our Autistic community.
I have been asked why do you have to have an officer change the battery? The reason for that is that Project Lifesaver requires that for us to be involved in the program we have to perform the battery change, and ultimately we cannot rely on most people to replace a battery every 30 days and with us being responsible for finding a person that is wearing a dead battery. We also ultimately want our clients recognizing us as the friendly face and uniform that visits them once a month, so when we go find them they will not run from us.
If you would really like to offer assistance, ask your local Police Department to partner up with us in this effort, so we can increase the number of clients that Project Lifesaver can assist. As you can tell, I am, along with all of our officers are very passionate about this program and do all we can in this little way to give back to our community. If you would like to call me direct with input or suggestions please feel free to do so.
Sgt. James E. Moore
Explosive Incident Specialist/K-9 Trainer, P.O.S.T. Instructor
Project Lifesaver Coordinator
Chatham County Sheriff’s Department