Beltrami County Touts Helpfulness of Project Lifesaver After Missing Man is Found
Beltrami County has been participating in the Project Lifesaver program since 2015. The program is designed to assist those who are looking after loved ones who tend to wander. Through donations from the community, Project Lifesaver provides the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office with the necessary transmitting bracelets and equipment upkeep.
Thousands of families across America have benefited from services made possible by the Project Lifesaver program. The program works by giving enrolled clients a bracelet transmitter with a unique radio frequency. If an individual goes missing, a local law enforcement agency can then use the bracelet’s signal to help locate the missing person.
After joining the program, Beltrami County was granted access to resources and equipment that made it possible for them to locate the members of the program. Throughout its existence, the program has given beneficiaries the opportunity to meet and get to know those who run it at the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Bemidji.
“I think to date, there’s been over 4,200 cases of rescues with this program nationwide,” said Ryan Humphrey, a parent of a program member. “And it’s – if you look on a spreadsheet on their website, and it’s within minutes to hours, you know, from the call coming in to finding the person and rescuing them, so there’s no other technology that comes close to that.”
“A lot of times these people may be scared of us and they may just continue on because they don’t know who we are,” said Robert Billing, a Project Lifesaver Coordinator with Beltrami County. “So getting that piece where we can actually go, I mean, we could just give them the batteries and show them how to change it, but then they wouldn’t have that interaction every couple of months, and so I think that’s really important to to to have that with them.”
Regarding Project Lifesaver, Humphrey claims that the most common concern he would hear was whether the member could be tracked or if there was a chance the system could be hacked.
“It has their own individual frequency, it’s 100% theirs, [there’s] not going to be a duplicate, so you can give that agency the frequency,” explained Humprhey. “Say you’re going to be there for a week, you know, two weeks and they’ll have it on their radar. Something goes wrong, you call them up, you give them the frequency, and they can get a deputy on scene within minutes and they can help locate the missing individual.”
Recently, the program helped Beltrami County locate a missing 19-year-old autistic man. 20 minutes a call was received saying he was missing, he was located.
“You know, this is just proof that the program, it works. I mean, that individual was found within a matter of, you know, less than an hour. It was minutes,” said Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs. “And it’s just beneficial for everyone involved. It’s, you know, for the safety and security of the client and the family. And then also for the first responders that are actually going to be spending time looking. It gets us that much closer to being able to do other things.”
Project Lifesaver has put families in Beltrami County at ease knowing that their loved ones are safe and protected under the program.
“Having this program is giving them the peace of mind that if that person does happen to wander, that there is something that’s going to be more helpful than just searching the area, something that could actually direct us to that person much quicker, especially with being in northern Minnesota or our, you know, our temperatures, you know, can plummet or we could also have hot, hot summers, and so that alone is scary for that person to be out there more than a couple of hours.”
For more information on Beltrami County’s Project Lifesaver or a consultation, you can call 218-333-9111.