Project Lifesaver: Finding those with autism, dementia with a 99% success rate. Hear the latest success story.
It’s a nightmare repeated dozens of times each year – a person with special needs wanders off as their loved ones wait anxiously for a safe return, and in Monmouth County, Project Lifesaver helps find those with autism and dementia with a 99% success rate.
This week, there was another success story in Englishtown.
It took the trained police officers 12 minutes from the time they were notified an 8-year-old girl had gone missing to reunite her with her grandmother.
From the time the 911 call came in Sunday evening, training kicked in. The girl wandered away from an apartment complex.
“They made us aware that it was a Project Lifesaver participant which means they have a tracking bracelet,” says Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “We have over 200 tracking bracelets on participants in Monmouth County.”
Englishtown Police Chief Peter Cooke and three fellow officers responded within 90 seconds of the call.
“I recalled from my autism training that autistic children were drawn to bodies of water,” says Cooke. “I knew there was a stream that ran behind the complex so I started walking along the stream.”
The girl was unharmed, and officer Michael Garifalos carried her to her relieved grandmother.
“She was very happy we found her,” says Garifalos. “I actually was going to grab a towel from her and when I told her we found her she was ecstatic.”
The little girl was wearing a tracking bracelet equipped with a radio frequency. If police were unable to find her in the first few minutes, Monmouth County sheriffs’ officers would have brought equipment needed to locate the frequency.
“We want to be sure we give the best opportunities to when a loved one with special needs becomes lost,” says Golden.
The sheriff’s department says the average time it takes to locate a person with autism who is enrolled in Project Lifesaver is around 15 minutes -- this rescue took just 12.