Police Stand Prepared to Find Missing Persons

Investigations Division Supervisor Sgt. Oliver Morris, right, and Det. Daniel Roberts display a tracking antenna during Project Lifesaver training at Los Alamos Police Department Headquarters Wednesday. The antenna is used to track the frequency of transmitting bracelets worn by people who tend to wander off and become lost. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos Police Officers took part in an all-day training program at Police Headquarters Wednesday, specifically geared toward adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome, dementia and other related cognitive conditions.

Project Lifesaver helps provide rapid response to save lives and reduce potential for serious injury for those who wander.

Local detectives trained on the use of specialized electronic search and rescue equipment, technology and procedures, and how to communicate with people afflicted with these cognitive conditions, all essential elements in the successful rescue of these missing persons.

“Time is of the essence when a loved one goes missing,” Det. Sgt. Oliver Morris said. “Project Lifesaver Regional Coordinator Chris McCaffrey took off today wearing a transmitter bracelet and the only thing we knew was that he was ‘somewhere in Los Alamos.’ Using the tracking antenna, we were able to locate him within 15 minutes in Western Area Park. It was 92 degrees out today so no telling what would have happened had it taken several hours to find him.”

Det. Daniel Roberts explained that the national average time to locate a wandering person is nine hours. The national average time to find a person enrolled in Project Lifesaver is 30 minutes, he said.

“The transmitter bracelet has a frequency specific to the person wearing it,” Roberts said. “When that person goes missing, we download that specific frequency into our locator antenna and begin the search. While there is no guarantee – there has been a 100 percent success rate in finding people under this program.”

Project Lifesaver provides equipment, training, certification and support to law enforcement and other agencies throughout the nation and has more than 1,200 participating agencies across the U.S., Canada and Australia. Agencies have performed a combined 2,529 searches in the last 13 years under this program with no serious injuries or fatalities reported.

“We encourage families with loved ones who have a tendency to wander to call us,” Morris said. “We have eight transmitting bracelets available at no charge for the time being through a federal grant to the state. And we can always get more, should the need arise.”

To find out more about Project Lifesaver or to enroll in the program, call 662-8222 and ask to speak to a detective.

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