Project Lifesaver bracelets can only save those who use them

Posted at 8:06 PM, Feb 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-24 20:06:19-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) --Project Livesaver has a 100 percent success rate in finding people with Alzheimer's, dementia and autism, but it can only save those who use it.

In the metro-wide area a few children with autism have gone missing, which led CBS 6 to ask officials why more people aren't using Project Lifesaver.

Not everyone qualifies and not everyone with Alzheimer's, dementia or autism needs the watch size device on their wrist. To get one you have to meet certain criteria.

But the number of those who qualify and actually wear a Project Lifesaver bracelet are low. For example, in Henrico County there are 47 registered, and just over 60 in Chesterfield.

"I think it's a great idea" Robin Davis with Richmond Autism Integration Network said, but quickly points out, it's not for everyone. "My 13-year old-son has never worn one and there really isn't a need for one."

"There has to be a dedicated care giver, for every client that's on "Project Lifesaver," Sgt. Rob Ruxer, with Colonial Heights Police said. "By care giver, I mean somebody whose going to be there and be able to check the battery on that transmitter, every single day."

"We provide them with a tester, which is very simple and takes less than 10 seconds to make sure the battery is working," he added.

Most cities and counties across Virginia offer the service.

Colonial Heights and Petersburg offer it for free.

Chesterfield County has a one time fee of $360 with free monthly battery replacement.

Henrico County has a one time fee of $300 and charges a $10 monthly fee to change out the battery.

Most localities that charge a fee say they can work with families that qualify but don't have the money to purchase the device.

"Project Lifesaver is a wonderful resource we recommend to families whose children with autism tend to wonder," the Virginia Institute of Autism said in a written statement.

"It should be a personal decision to use Project Lifesaver. Not all children with autism have problems with wandering and the project doesn't fit every family's lifestyle."