GREENE CO., (WTWO/WAWV) — “I had the issues of sleeping at night because I was worried about him waking up and walking out of the house,” said Heather Bell, a Greene County resident.
She said her son who lives with autism and is non-verbal, first wandered off at the age of 5.
“It took us an hour to find him. He can’t respond when people are calling him. He doesn’t know fear. And he just went away,” Bell said.
Another Greene County resident, Marsha Stinson, said her son also lives with autism.
“Thomas is a wanderer. He’s actually wandered twice,” she said.
The two became friends after learning about a device that could save their children’s lives, called Project Lifesaver.
“It was basically formed by search and rescue people to help locate people that are challenged cognitively or physically. Basically people that would be prone to wander from their caregiver,” said Major George Dallaire of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
“I applied for it and then I got a call for him. And I think Ayden was the third person to get a bracelet,” Bell said.
Each bracelet has its own frequency number and is tracked by the Greene County sheriff’s office through an electronic transmitter. It must be worn 24 hours a day.
“This is just so much better because then all I have to do is call them, give them a number and where he last was seen and they go and find him,” said Bell.
According to the sheriff’s office, a client can be found in just 20 minutes time.
“It’s a sense of relief that no matter where he goes or who he’s with. that protection is with him,” said Stinson.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office said they’ve given out around 20 bracelets since starting their chapter of the program in 2015.
Those who qualify for Greene County’s program will receive the bracelets free of charge.