Pilot Club, Sheriff’s dept. work together to be lifesavers

Project Lifesaver is a project in Union County that was created to help find people when they are lost, especially children and adults with autism or special needs or Alzheimer’s patients. The Union County Sheriff’s Department, in conjunction with the New Albany Pilot Club, purchased new equipment recently.  The new equipment purchased was 100 bands for the Project Lifesaver bracelets, two receivers, seven transmitters, two mobile antennas and two hand-held antennas.

The project was formed in 1989 in Chesapeake, Va., but began in New Albany and Union County in 2006. It was created to be used with children and adults with special needs and autism, but mainly to be used with Alzheimer’s patients in the medium stage of the disease that have a tendency to get lost.

Pilot Club President Jennifer Cobb, and Pilot Club Treasurer Mellisa Broom attended the Pilot International Convention in 2005 and heard about Project Lifesaver and thought it would be a good idea for Union County and New Albany to implement.  Broom and Cobb brought the idea to Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite and the project began in 2006 with Wilhite being the state coordinator.

Broom said, “If we can find one person that is lost, it will be worth it.”

Other than Union County, Itawamba, Lee, Marshall and Lafayette are the only other counties that have Project Lifesaver.

The receivers, transmitters, bands, batteries and antennas are all funded by the Pilot Club, a grant for $5, 000 from the Council on Aging, and donations from local churches and organizations. The cost for two transmitters is $628 and the cost of one receiver is $3500.00, but so far no one has had to pay anything for the use of the band and transmitter. At this time, there are approximately seven people wearing them in the county.

Each bracelet has its own frequency. The frequency will reach one mile on the ground and ten miles in the air. “The reason for the new equipment is because the analog to digital switch will happen on February 17, 2009 and the old receivers didn’t pick up a high enough frequency that is needed now that everything will be digital. The new frequency for the transmitters is 216 MegaHertz, whereas the digital frequency is 215 MegaHertz. Also, the new transmitters can stay underwater for 24 hours without breaking,” Wilhite said.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Project Lifesaver or ordering a bracelet, contact Sheriff Tommy Wilhite at 534-1941. If anyone is interested in donating to Project Lifesaver, contact Mellisa Broom at 534-1960.