Parents push for counties to adopt Project Lifesaver

When 8-year-old Skyleigh Pool disappeared, multiple agencies and volunteers searched throughout the area for the little girl. Her body was found the next morning in a pond about a quarter mile from the home, and parents across the area want to prevent huge search parties looking for loved ones.

That's why parents are calling for counties to adopt Project Lifesaver. It helps emergency crews respond quicker when searching for someone with autism, dementia or traumatic brain injuries. Right now, Project Lifesaver is only available in Graves and McCracken counties. Families outside those counties can sign up with the understanding that it will take officers and deputies longer to respond, but parents say it could save lives.

Like any family outside on a nice day, Lance Dennee says he's careful to keep an eye on his kids because playing by the river can be dangerous.

"For some reason, autistic people gravitate towards water," Dennee says.

He says even in dangerous situations his youngest son has a tendency to wander, so they found help in the form of what his son, Sam, knows as something only special to him: his Project Lifesaver bracelet.

Dennee says he remembers how terrifying it was the times his son did walk away. "Your heart starts racing, and you just have to train yourself not to panic," he said. "It's very hard not to panic."

The Project Lifesaver tracker sends a radio signal 24/7 that can be detected by equipment in the sheriff's department.

It's part of the job fitting Sam with his Project Lifesaver bracelet. Deputy Tim Reed says the system works, but the key is to call soon and call early.

"Time is so very important when you realize they're gone and you really have no idea you have to call 911," says Reed.

The bracelet serves as an extra pair of eyes on Sam and gives Denee some peace of mind.

Denee says he likes "knowing if something did happen, we could still find him."

The trackers are free to any family. All you have to do is fill out all the proper forms. Reed says it's important the tracker fit snugly on either your wrist or ankle so it doesn't slip off.

Agencies in both Ballard and Marshall counties are looking into adopting Project Lifesaver, but they both say it will take some time.

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