Monday, September 7, 2009

One year later, Project Lifesaver still keeping people safe

It’s an all-too-common reality for some — a loved one with special needs wanders off.

Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is providing reassurance for dozens of families in Dane County — like the O’Leary family of McFarland.

Aidan O’Leary is an energetic, inquisitive 7-year-old. He also has a tendency to wander.

“He could hide in places, go into an empty car, go in someone’s garage,” said Lisa O’Leary, mother. “He would go with a stranger. We could be walking down the street and he slips out of my arm and he’d be in the parking lot and go right in front of a car.”

Aidan was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When his family heard about Project Lifesaver, they were one of the first to sign up. Aidan wears a one-ounce GPS tracker on his ankle, which emits a signal every second, 24 hours a day.

“From day one, he has not tried to fidget with the device, or try to get it off at all,” Lisa said. “It was basically like wearing another sock.”

Aidan’s parents check the gps battery battery twice a day, and enter it in a log book. They’re one of 26 families in Dane County who use Project Lifesaver — families dealing with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and down syndrome.

“You’re keeping track of them 24 hours, you’re eyes are always on them, but somehow you turn your head and they can be gone,” Lisa said.

Aidan’s mother never stops worrying, she says, but if her son ever went missing, she’d know where to look.

“It’s so reassuring to know that if he’s lost, we can find him.”

Project Lifesaver is completely funded thru donations. Otherwise it would cost families $300 per year.

No comments: