Johnson County first responders to use ‘Project Lifesaver’ program to help reunite families with lost loved ones

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:30 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Emergency Management Agency in Johnson County has a new tool that aims to find missing people who are especially vulnerable.

Project Lifesaver is a service that locates those with Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia, and other cognitive conditions. A silent radio frequency is sent out through a wrist or ankle band and connects to a tracking device similar to GPS. It allows first responders to know how close or far away an individual wearing the transmitter is based on how loud or soft the tracking device is beeping.

While someone can take the transmitter off, the device is still effective.

“If this person has gotten a half mile away from their point last seen and now the device is off, it gives us a brand new starting point to where that person was,” said Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director, Travis Beckman.

Johnson County EMA paid nearly $5,000 for the start up, which includes training, five monitors, and the tracking device that goes along with it.

Lieutenant Chris Wisman with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says these types of calls can get require a lot of resources and last hours. Whereas ‘Project Lifesaver’ takes, on average, 30 minutes to find someone.

“I think the benefits for it are huge and for us on the county, it’s a pretty big area to find somebody so if we can isolate a certain area or direction, it would help us out tremendously,” said Lt. Wisman.

They haven’t implemented the new system yet, but once they complete training they will open up online applications for those who qualify for the transmitters.

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