Last Friday, there was a national news story about a 20 year old autistic man who wandered off and survived three weeks in the in the Utah desert. Local officials and the Port Clinton Lions Club have begun a new program in Ottawa County to make certain that doesn’t happen here.
It’s called Project Lifesaver. In involves wearing a bracelet that contains a transmitter. The transmitter emits a signal that can be traced by local law enforcement agencies. It is targeted at people who may not be able to find their way home if they leave home. The average rescue time is 30 minutes instead of three weeks. However, with out it, almost 50% of the missing and wandering will perish if they are not located within 24 hours.
The program began in 1999 and was brought to the Port Clinton Lions Club by a visiting Lion from California who was attending the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry in 2005. The program received limited assistance until it was re-invigorated in 2011 with the help of Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick and the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Among them they formed a local partnership, and OCDD employee Louise Terry started a grand committee to apply for funding to purchase more bracelets.
They were very successful, as they acquired a grant of $2,500 which will allow them to purchase another 8-10 transmitter bracelets. That will more than double what they have today. They have 7 bracelets in use today which include one person with Alzheimer’s and 6 autistic children. The need is there because, according to Louise Terry, the OCDD is serving some 20 autistic children in Ottawa County.
“I am a firm believer that we are truly our brother’s keeper,” says Sheriff Levorchick. “If we do not step forward and care for our whole community, we have failed everyone, including ourselves.”
The partnership has grown significantly in recent months to include a number of new partner organizations. They include Magruder Hospital, Ottawa County Senior Resources, the Ottawa County Veterans Office, and Mercy/St. Vincent Hospital Life Flight.
According to Chairperson of Project Lifesaver, Horst Herzog, a longtime Lions member, the partnership is holding an Open House on Wednesday, July 25 from 3-7 p.m. at the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities offices located at 235 S. Toussaint Road.