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Wearable device saves autistic teen's life

Project lifesaver wristband used to find him

Project Lifesaver

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A Project Lifesaver wearable device was used to pinpoint the location of a 19-year-old autistic boy who escaped from his home and was found swimming in a retention pond. 

 At approximately 2:10 p.m. on January 28, 2017, the caretakers at his residential home discovered he was missing.  They contacted the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch center to report the emergency.  Thanks to the fact that the missing at-risk teenager’s family had signed him up with Project Lifesaver, he was wearing a transmitter that was able to pinpoint his location.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) team and a Santa Barbara County Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit helicopter were deployed.  SBCSAR team members used the electronic monitoring system to direct Air Support to the area where the signal was coming from.  At approximately 5:15 p.m., Air Support spotted the missing teenager swimming in a reservoir located approximately five miles from the residential home.  The unseasonably cold water was up to his neck and indications were that he had been there for some time and could have easily drowned.   Fortunately, Air Support was able to lead a Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team member and a Sheriff’s Volunteer to his location.  The Sheriff’s Volunteer knew the missing teenager from periodically changing the batteries on his Project Lifesaver bracelet.  When the teenager heard his familiar voice, he agreed to reach his hands out and was pulled over the slippery water basin to safety.

The missing teenager’s family is extremely grateful to the rescuers and to Project Lifesaver for potentially saving their child’s life. The Sheriff’s Office encourages residents who have a family member who suffers from Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Autism, or any condition where they could wander and get lost, to sign up for Project Lifesaver by going to our website at www.sbsheriff.org.

Project Lifesaver has more than 1,600 participating agencies across the country and a 100% success rate.  The National average of finding a Project Lifesaver client is 30 minutes versus the hours and days it can take to find someone without this technology.


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