New program to protect people on autism spectrum or afflicted with Alzheimer's

By Jon Shainman, WPTV

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - The search continues for a woman with dementia who went missing from her Vero Beach restaurant. There has been no sign of her for a month.

Back in December, a young girl on the autism spectrum was found in a pond a few blocks from her Port St. Lucie home after she wandered away.

“If your loved one has a tendency to wander or if you think they’re going to wander, now is the time to act," said Gene Saunders, the head of Project Lifesaver.

Based in Port St. Lucie, Project Lifesaver announced a new partnership Monday with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s office, providing its services for free. “This project and this initiative will prevent future tragedies," said St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara.

Project Lifesaver is in 1600 agencies in all 50 states, and claims 3400 rescues.

“Times for certified Project Lifesaver agencies have been reduced from hours and days to minutes," said Sheriff Mascara.

Because of bad weather, Saunders showed off how Project Lifesaver worked inside. He gave a bracelet to a person who hid in a mail room down the hall. The technology is similar to what’s used to track wildlife.

“We use radio telemetry. Which is nothing more than tracking a radio frequency with a receiver with a trained individual," said Saunders.

The person was found in a short time. The tracking device has a radius of about a mile. The organization now also has a drone to guide search crews.

Several members of the Sheriff's Office are going through training next month, not just to learn how to use the equipment, but also how to properly interact with those they will be searching for.

Again it is a free program. If you want to enroll, contact the Sheriff's Office at 772-871-5303.