Port Allen FD is saving lives in a new way; 'Project Life Saver' training

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POSTED: Friday, March 7, 2014 - 8:02pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 11:15pm

These first responders might be at a playground, but this is no game.  "Project life saver saves lives," said instructor, Paul Ballance. And while this might just be a practice run, Project Life Saver can help locate a missing person within 30 minutes. But what exactly is it?

Ballance explained, "Project life saver is a proactive system set up for tracking those that might tend to wander." He added, particularly those with alzheimer's or developmental disabilities. A person will wear a special transmitter around the wrist or the ankle.  When a caregiver reports a missing person, it will send a signal to a device like this. And after a quick briefing on where the person was last seen, NBC33 got to ride along to see it in action.

"The closer they get to it, the louder it gets, to where you use thatequipment to draw a line right to the transmitter," said Ballance in the field.  Their first search finished in 11 minutes and 26 seconds. The second--16 minutes.  Firefighter, Alex Thibodeaux mentioned, "It's a good opportunity to be able to rescue people who walk away so they don't get hurt."  But Port Allen had help to become the first in South Louisiana to get this system. After an autistic child was hit and killed near US 190 back in 2012, Mom of two autistic children, Randi Stephens, stood up."I found out they did not have it, I started advocating for it and trying to get it in our area."And her hard work paid off--in the form of 5,000 dollar grant for project life saver.

Search and rescue with people on foot can be costly, and can waste valuable time.  "If you have a device, you can find the person a lot sooner, usually," said firefighter Mark Travasos.  Responders and families are relieved, and ready.

Travasos added, "We respond to emergencies on a regular occasion, but if we can get to somebody before they're in an emergency situation, that'd be better for us."   "My babies are my world," said Stephens.  "My sons are my world and I love them more than anything in this world. It is a definite peace of mind."

For more information on how to obtain a device or how to donate towards a family who needs one, call the Port Allen Fire Department at 225-346-4676.

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