Pilot who helped find Jefferson County man who wandered from home promotes Project Lifesaver

Helicopter helps find missing man

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - The helicopter pilot who helped find an elderly Jefferson County man who went missing recently spoke to WBRC Monday. Family members signed him up for a program that helps law enforcement track people who are prone to wander off.

On Saturday, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department got help from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to find 77-year-old Ronald Watkins of Center Point. Watkins was wearing a Project Lifesaver bracelet when he went missing. That helped people with tracking equipment locate him.

An ALEA helicopter flew from Montgomery to Jefferson County to help in the search. That pilot said it took about an hour to find Mr. Watkins. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Project Lifesaver is designed to quickly locate lost individuals who may have conditions like Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome or autism. They wear special bracelets that transmit a “chirp” to enable specially trained law enforcement officers to use handheld antennae to find them.

The pilot who helped find Watkins believes this was an example of how Project Lifesaver can find people and save lives.

“Hopefully it gives these families confidence knowing that if they’re loved one dos wander off that we have a very high chance of locating them and getting them to safer locations as quick as possible,” Cpl. Kent Smith, statewide coordinator for Project Lifesaver, explained.

Smith said around 1,000 people statewide are signed up for Project Lifesaver. You can contact your local Sheriff’s department to find out if your loved one could be eligible to be enrolled in the program.

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