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Program coming to Eau Claire Co. meant to reduce search time for missing people with disabilities

Eau Claire County (WQOW) – The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office is looking to get new technology to help them better find some of our more vulnerable citizens when they go missing.

You may recall, early last month, an Eau Claire County man with Autism wandered from his home. He in non-verbal and easily overwhelmed by large groups of people. K-9s and officers searched into the night looking for the man. Luckily, he found his way home the next day.

Now, the sheriff’s office is working to bring Project Lifesaver to the county to make searches like this much easier and faster.

Families enrolled in the project receive a bracelet that emits a radio signal. If the person wearing the device wanders away from their loved ones, law enforcement will be able to track their location using the signal.

The Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office is currently raising money to bring the project to the county and expects it to be in place by the end of the year.

Deputy Melissa Sommers said it will bring some peace of mind to both families and law enforcement.

“Having individuals enrolled in this program would definitely reduce the amount of hours spent trying to locate an individual with one of these cognitive behaviors,” Sommers said. “It definitely is important to be able to reassure the family that the response time of finding their loved one is reduced.”

The program costs roughly $300 per-family but the sheriff’s office is working with organizations to fund the enrollment fees for those in need.

Photo Credit: Project Lifesaver

Mary Pautsch

Mary came to News 18 in July 2019 from Sioux City, Iowa where she graduated from Morningside College with a BA in Spanish after attending Iowa State University for 3 years.

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