By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
Project Lifesaver is online and ready to go in Huron County. It has taken months of planning and fundraising, along with training, but the program will help in the search of people who might wander from home by having them fitted with a wristband radio transmitter.
The Huron County Sheriff’s Office will provide the equipment and trained each personnel for the project. The program began nationwide in 1999 to help searchers locate lost individuals more quickly who suffer from dementia, autism and other disabilities that caused them to be more prone to getting lost.
“We fully support the program,” said Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard. “I commend Huron County Special Deputy Ron Robinson for taking the lead on this project.”
Huron County Senior Enrichment Services and the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities will handle the intake services for applicants into the program.
Because of statistics that show one of every nine people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s Disease, Lucinda Smith, executive director for Huron County Senior Enrichment Services, said it was an easy decision for the agency to become part of the program.
“We see the stress this disease puts on families,” she pointed out. “Any time we find a program that can help alleviate their stress, we want to be a part of it.”
According to Barbara Wrabel, community outreach specialist for the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the families and caregivers of people with developmental disabilities who might have a history of wandering, will also find piece of mind.
“We work with so many great families who have a lot on their plates on a daily basis,” Wrabel noted. “There’s no replacement for their watchful, constant care, but Project Lifesaver absolutely offers a measure of reassurance and a little relief from the worry they might feel.”
Huron County Special Deputy Ron Robinson said the program is supported by donations. The program could not start until the money was raised, and Robinson said he appreciated the help of people and groups who donated the money and products to make Huron County Project Lifesaver become a lifesaving reality.
“This project has come to realization because of caring people protecting our community members who need our help the most,” Robinson said, “while giving their families a small sense of security. Your Project Lifesaver program started on donations only and will need continued support to keep it strong in the future.”
The non-profit Mercy Health-Willard Foundation accepted all donations. The board will serve as the fiscal agent for Project Lifesaver and will provide general management of the funds.
“Because dementia and other similar related mental disorders impair many cognitive abilities, such as simple every day tasks including language and logical reasoning," noted Danhoff, “it is extremely important for us to provide the services of Huron County Project Lifesaver for our communities.
“These transmitters may not only save lives but will also provide assistance and peace of mind for the caregiver,” she added. “It is gratifying to see the collaboration of many agencies and caregivers working in tandem with the support and leadership of the Huron County Sheriff’s Office.”
Committee members include Rev. Ricky Branham, pastor of Ripley Chapel, head of the Willard Area Chamber of Commerce and Mercy Health-Willard Hospital; Chris Hipp, mayor of the Village of Wakeman; Bellevue Police Chief Mark Kaufman; Betsy Neuberger, Fisher-Titus Medical Center social services; Arthur Pember of the Norwalk Lions Club; Carol Robinson, coordinator of children’s services at the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities; Becky Wineman, community services at Willows at Willard, and Janisha Buck, from Bellevue Hospital social services.
For more information about Huron County Project Lifesaver or to apply for a wristband for a family member or for someone who is cared for, call Barbara Wrabel at 419-668-8840, ext. 1455 or Lucinda Smith at 419-668-6245.