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How this little chip could save the life of someone you love

Posted at 1:39 AM, Jun 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-21 01:39:00-04

WATCH: The device that can help save lives

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- June, which is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, is a good time for caregivers to think about keeping their loved ones safe.

In recent months, a number of people have been reported missing in Central Virginia. And in some of those cases, there has not been a positive outcome. In others, the person was found safe.

This week, 34-year-old Robert Holmes Jr., who has autism, was found nearly 24 hours after he vanished from his Lakeside neighborhood.
lifesavebutton But if Holmes has been wearing a GPS tracking device, Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade believes he would have been found more quickly.

“If he had this on, we would’ve probably been able to find him in about 20 minutes," Wade said pointing to the small device, which looks like a battery.

The device, which is part of Project Lifesaver, is used by law enforcement to help locate people with Alzheimer's, dementia and autism.

Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade

Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade

In fact, if a person goes missing, police will send the frequency to the fire department, which has a receiver that picks up the signal attached to the device.

“They’re not just looking for a signal when they go out there -- they actually know who the person is," Wade explained.

And Wade said the average time to find a missing person is 30 minutes or less within a two-mile radius.

"If you look at the resources the county puts in, overtime associated with this. [and] the number of people involved... it saves a lot of money and located them quickly," Wade said.

Wade said the county implemented the technology 10 years ago. Since then, close to 100 families have registered for Project Lifesaver.

"We’ve talked about it a number of times," Wade said. "But there are still people that don’t know about it."


Wade said the devices cost around $250. However, over the years, Henrico police have donated 911 funds to help pay for them. As a result, families who register would only ave to pick up the battery replacement fee.

“We never turned anybody away that’s asked for it," Wade promised.

Since the Richmond Sheriff's Office began offering the technology in 2011, more than two dozen families have registered.

Chesterfield County has even more families signed on. Project Lifesaver has a 100-percent success rate in finding people, but Wade said it can only save those who use it.

If you're interested in the program, contact your area police department or sheriff's office.