- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Following the frequency emitting from her transmitter bracelet, firefighter Paul Ford tracked the girl’s movements through Lower Cascades Park early Tuesday afternoon.

As he sprinted uphill, Ford received word that two city maintenance workers had found the missing girl by a waterfall, east of the playground’s restrooms. Once he reached the girl, himself, Ford spoke into his radio. Out of breath, he called off the search and asked that someone give the girl’s mother the good news.

The 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome had wandered away.

She was lost for about 15 minutes. The Project Lifesaver band affixed to an ankle helped guide emergency responders to the girl’s location.

“We had a good signal. We were headed right to her. We were kind of like hound dogs right on her trail,” Ford, a lieutenant with the Van Buren Township Fire Department, told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1jrT2hL ).

Project Lifesaver is an internationally recognized program using transmitters to track people who are at risk of wandering off, including adults with Alzheimer’s and children with autism. The bracelets have individual frequencies, and emergency responders can use hand-held receiver and antennas to track a person’s frequency code.

The program had been part of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, but fizzled out when the deputy who ran it retired.

Ford and Kevin Rader, a firefighter and EMT, helped coordinate the resurgence of the program, which relaunched in January after funds were raised to replace outdated equipment.

Now, Monroe County has 10 families signed up for the free program.

Tuesday afternoon’s Project Lifesaver search marked the second time since Sunday morning Ford has raced to a scene with his equipment, which can pick up a frequency within a mile radius of a transmitter.

A woman with Alzheimer’s took the family dog on a walk on Sunday. When she hadn’t returned in an hour, her husband called 911 for help. Ford grabbed his gear that day, too, and headed toward the woman’s last known whereabouts.

Bloomington police found the woman, and the dog, about a mile away from her home.

Bloomington police and members of the Bloomington Township and Van Buren Township fire departments joined in Tuesday’s search.

Perry-Clear Creek and Ellettsville firefighters have gone through the training and have equipment, as well, Ford said in a telephone interview. City firefighters also will receive Project Lifesaver training soon.


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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