LEE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) – Four deputies with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) have earned their certifications in Project Lifesaver, which the sheriff’s office hopes will help authorities find missing people with dementia and other conditions when they wander away.

A post from the LCSO describes Project Lifesaver as “a rapid response program that aids victims and families who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and autism.” The LCSO reports certified deputies use new technology and special training to find people who have wandered away from their caregivers.

Photo: WJHL

Deputies Chris Hill, Tye Taylor, Jeff Smith and William Barker each earned their certification for Project Lifesaver.

Sergeant Mike Peters, the officer in charge of the Project Lifesaver program with the LCSO, said the program started at the department in 2007.

“It aids and assists families and caregivers in locating loved ones that may be at risk for wandering or becoming lost,” Peters said. “Caregivers can come to the sheriff’s office and sign their loved ones up for the program.”

Photo: WJHL

People enrolled in the program are outfitted with a transmitter for their wrist or ankle bracelet that sends out a frequency that deputies can track down with their equipment.

The four latest deputies to be certified passed their tests by using the equipment out in the field in tests. Peters said the issue of wandering people with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s is one that the LCSO faces frequently.

“We’ve dealt with it a lot, and unfortunately, we’ve dealt with it a lot with people who weren’t on the program,” Peters said. “If you don’t locate them very quickly – within the first day – their chances of survival go way down. It’s very important that we locate these individuals as quickly as possible.”

Photo: WJHL

Peters said if the sheriff’s office is notified quickly that someone enrolled in Project Lifesaver has wandered away, the LCSO can track them down and bring them home in a matter of minutes.

“If they’re within three miles when we get there, we can pick up the signal, we’ll find them,” Peters said.

Anyone hoping to enroll their loved one in the program should contact the sheriff’s office at 276-346-7753. Peters said the LCSO will handle the battery changes for the transmitter, which typically requires replacing every two months.