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Project Lifesaver bracelets aim to help at-risk kids

Roane County Sheriff’s officers prepared to track lost children or adults at a moment’s notice.
Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 3:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 5:48 PM EDT
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KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) - New technology aims to help the families of at-risk children and adults who are at risk for wandering away. The Project Lifesaver program distributes transmitter bracelets to at-risk children and adults.

The first donated transmitter bracelets were fitted on two Midway Elementary special education students as part of the Project Lifesaver program in Roane County. The Roane County Sheriff’s Office has a system in place in which three mobile receivers track an at-risk child or adult with dementia who takes part in the program. More donations via the Sheriff’s Office, where people can apply to receive one, would make more donated transmitters possible for the community. Sergeant Rick Butler said the transmitters cost around $325 each.

Mother Amy Shultz said she feels a tremendous sense of relief now that her 12-year-old son, Abram, with autism is wearing a transmitter. Shultz said her home security system and other precautions are not necessarily enough for a child with special needs.

“He’s gotten out of the house on us before. We’ve had to go chasing after him. It’s a peace of mind for me that, even though I take as many safety precautions as I can,” Shultz said.

Angela Bacon said her 8-year-old daughter, Shelby, feels comfortable with her home and school routines, but can easily become scared and try to run away.

“There is times that we have to go somewhere she is not familiar with and that’s where this happens when she get scared,” said Bacon, “she will take off if she gets scared.”

Both students attend class during the school year with instructor Sonya Clawson, who said even more at-risk students could use a device like the Project Lifesaver transmitter.

Butler said every participating family must complete an application for Project Lifesaver, complete with a physician’s signature.

The program is intended for special needs children with developmental challenges or adults with dementia who have a tendency to wander away from their caregivers. Individuals interested in obtaining a transmitter are required to go through the application process. The local program is still working to gather more donations in order to provide more bracelets to those with financial needs.

Project Lifesaver aims to create a connection with caregivers like the Shultz and Bacon families, so once someone goes missing, officers can immediately hear from the caregiver and start tracking.

“The average time to find somebody with a Project Lifesaver transmitter is 30 minutes,” said Butler. “The average time to find someone without a transmitter is 9 hours.”

Butler said once a person goes missing for more than 24 hours, they have only a 50-50 chance of being found alive. Butler said Knox, Loudon and Anderson counties also have this program available via law enforcement.

Individuals who wish to connect with the program, can contact Sergeant Rick Butler at rbutler@roanesheriff.org or mail or drop off donations designated Project Lifesaver to:

Roane County Sheriff’s Office

230 N. Third Street

Kingston, TN 37763

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