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Albany Police Department gets Project Lifesaver grant

ALBANY, Ga. — Those with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome and autism who wonder off from home will soon have a new resource that will allow law enforcement to find them more easily.

The Albany Police Department was informed earlier this month that it had received a Project Lifesaver grant.

Last week, officials were still not sure of the specifics regarding how the program would be implemented for public use. The basic idea will be to provide a limited number of bracelets that will allow authorities to track them should they go missing.

This will be done through a transmitter connected to the bracelet, which authorities will be trained to use.

“This is so if we have a situation where someone runs off, the fire and rescue process will be streamlined,” said Sonya Johnson, planning and research manager for the APD. “We want to minimize the amount of harm from people going missing.”

The bracelets will be provided on a first come, first serve basis. The startup costs, which include equipment and training expenses, will be $5,000-$6,500.

APD officials said they will work initially with what they have and will find a way to secure the needed funding to expand the program.

Currently, 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s with as many as 16 million cases expected by 2050, information provided by Project Lifesaver indicates. Wandering, the most life-threatening behavior associated with Alzheimer’s, affects 59 percent of patients — and 45 percent of those cases end in death if the person is not located within 24 hours.

Autism, which is the fastest-growing developmental disability that now afflicts one in every 110 children, can cause them to wander, too.

Project Lifesaver is a nonprofit organization started in 1999. Project Lifesaver agencies have had more than 2,100 successful rescues since the program’s inception, and the average rescue time is approximately 30 minutes.