Deputies credit Project Lifesaver with quick discovery of missing Charleston man

Published: Sep. 13, 2016 at 7:23 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County deputies say a program designed to find vulnerable adults who wander from their homes helped them quickly locate a missing man.

The program, Project Lifesaver, was founded by public safety officers to help locate those who wander off quickly and facilitate their speedy return to their families, Charleston County Sheriff's Maj. Eric Watson said. More than 1,500 agencies in all 50 states participate in Project Lifesaver.

Deputies in Charleston responded shortly after 2 p.m. Monday to a report of a missing vulnerable adult. The missing man's spouse reported he was signed up with the program through the sheriff's office, Watson said.

"While our deputies were checking the nearby areas, woods, and roadways, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office Community Affairs Unit, which is the unit that manages the Project Lifesaver Program for the Sheriff's Office, K9, and our Aviation Unit responded with Project Lifesaver tracking equipment to assist with the search efforts," Watson said.

Crews both on the ground and in the air were able to obtain a tracking signal and locate the missing man's exact location. He was found unharmed inside a home about a quarter mile away and returned safely to his home, Watson said.

Those enrolled in the program wear a small transmitter on the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal, Watson said.

If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer's area.

Most who wander are found within a few miles from home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. Recovery times for Project Lifesaver clients average 30 minutes, 95 percent less time than standard operations, Watson said.

"The quick recovery of this missing vulnerable adult is a true testament that Project Lifesaver works and is a valuable tool for the citizens of Charleston County and the Charleston County Sheriff's Office," Watson said. "Without it being available in this particular incident, it would have taken our deputies much longer to locate this person, which would have added additional stress to his family."

Anyone interested in signing up with Project Lifesaver can call the Charleston County Sheriff's Office Community Affairs Unit at (843) 529-6220.

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