Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), 210 E. 11th Street, Panama City 32401 --
Local entities collaborate to enhance the ability to quickly locate individuals with cognitive disorders who are prone to the life threatening behavior of wandering through Project Lifesaver. The initiative began several years ago with the Alzheimer’s Alliance, Springfield Police Department and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. With limited resources, they sought to provide local adults with dementia, and similar medical conditions, life saving equipment that would assist first responders in finding a lost individual timely.
In 2020, the partnership expanded to include the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and the Panama City Beach Police Department to also provide such services to children and residents on the western side of the county. With a grant provided by the Bay Health Foundation, the CAC was able to fund the equipment necessary to accomplish this goal.
Project Lifesaver is an international program founded in 1999. Per the program’s website, “The necessity of this program was determined through the correlation between cognitive conditions and the act of wandering. With the dramatic increase of cognitive conditions since the inception of the organization, the program has grown from a localized program to a program recognized internationally as a proven and effective method of ‘bringing loved ones home.’”
Recovery times for Project Lifesaver agencies average 30 minutes, which is 95% less time than standard operations without Project Lifesaver.
“The method relies on proven radio technology and specially trained search and rescue teams. Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small transmitter on the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized frequency signal. If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer’s area. The first responders will then use the client’s individualized frequency to locate the position of the individual. The knowledge given from the community policing courses is best applied in this situation because the first responders will know how to best approach the client once found, and allow them to be brought back to safety.”