Preventing Silver Alerts, saving seniors

Life-saving bracelet 100 percent successful

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office is one of several law enforcement agencies in Central Florida to equip those with the potential to get lost with tracking bracelets -- and it works. Always.

"It's 100 percent success," says Joe Downs, Brevard County Project Lifesaver coordinator. "Never lost a person yet. If this device is on someone, we're gonna find them."

The watch-sized device goes on an ankle and is water-proof. The transmitter emits radio frequencies, not GPS signals, because radio frequencies travel through water.

"Every one of these has a different radio frequency," said Downs. "We plug in the frequency, we begin to search. The louder the signal, the closer we have the client we're looking for."

Deputies keep receivers in their patrol cars and helicopters and locate people wearing the transmitters in minutes.

Right now, around 100 people in Brevard county are wearing it.

"Someone that has a child with Down syndrome, autism, a patient with Alzheimer's or dementia," said Downs. "Their family members will call us."

Project Lifesaver is a nationwide program but it has saved many lives in Brevard County. Recently, a man called the Sheriff's Office to report his wife missing the morning after she disappeared.

"She was sleeping in the back seat of a neighbor's car, one block over," said Downs. "And if it had not been for this device locating her, we don't know how we would have found her. She had been missing all night and we found her in 15-20 minutes after we got on scene."

Sheriff Wayne Ivey said Project Lifesaver saves money and resources, allowing deputies to focus on getting crime results.

Ivey said an all-out search for a missing person can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Using Project Lifesaver's receivers, deputies are immediately dispatched to a missing person's last-known whereabouts and pick up the signal of the transmitter in minutes.

The transmitter costs around $400 dollars and the receiver costs $1,500, but the Brevard County Sheriff's Office has now raised enough money to provide the device to everyone who qualifies for free.

Volunteers change out batteries on the devices every few months.

There are certain conditions to enroll in project lifesaver, like a participant must no longer be driving.

To apply for a transmitter bracelet or apply for a loved one, click on the link.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.