County Commissioners

Mercer County Commissioners Gene Buckner, Bill Archer, and Greg Puckett help provide the Mercer County Sheriff's Department with funds for Project Lifesaver. The project aims to provide tracking bands to aids in the search for wandering or lost individuals with Alzheimer’s, autism, Down Syndrome, dementia or other cognitive conditions.

PRINCETON — West Virginia has over 47,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease, and 60 percent of them will develop a tendency to wander away from home. A new program at the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department is aimed at finding these people quickly.

Lt. J.J. Ruble with the sheriff’s department spoke Tuesday during a special Mercer County Commission meeting about Project Live Saver, a program that aids the search for wandering or lost individuals with Alzheimer’s, autism, Down Syndrome, dementia or other cognitive conditions.

“It’s a tracking device for individuals with developmental and cognitive disorders who wander,” Ruble said. “It allows them to be tracked by radio transmissions. It would cost approximately $5,000 for training and equipment.”

The sheriff’s department is looking at buying 10 individual tracking bands, which would be worn like a wristwatch, for about $350 apiece. There would be no annual upkeep for the devices other than batteries and bands for the transmitters, Ruble stated. The department was asking the county commission for help with the program’s initial start up.

County Commission President Gene Buckner asked how the program’s participants would be selected. Ruble replied there will be an application process, and applicants (caretakers) would need a letter from a medical professional. Project Life Saver is for anyone with a diagnosed cognitive disorder.

Each transmitter setup, which includes all the equipment needed for one year, costs about $350, Ruble said. It’s a one-time fee with no annual fees other than the battery and band upkeep, which is less than $2 a year. The sheriff’s department will try to offset some of the expense by partnering with local advocacy groups and organizations.

“We will also be reaching out to local community members and businesses to spread awareness of the need for the program in our area,” Ruble said.

Buckner moved to provide the program $5,000 from the county’s video lottery funds and Puckett seconded it. The motion passed unanimously.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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