A Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency search team was a real lifesaver May 27 for an 82-year-old East Boothbay woman. Lincoln County Communications received an emergency call around 11 a.m. from the woman’s husband reporting his wife, who has a cognitive impairment, was missing.
The woman is one of four participants in the county’s Project Lifesaver program. In 2018, Lifesaver began as a pilot program to aid public safety officials in locating people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, dementia, Down’s Syndrome, or another brain disorder. The program began after a 2017 search for an 82-year-old Bristol man who wandered off his Round Pond property. Maine Game Wardens found the man after a 24-hour search. The program was installed to reduce time in finding people with cognitive issues.
Lincoln County EMA Deputy Director Melissa Temple reported the county is one of 3,600 agencies nationwide with a Lifesaver program. The six-person county EMA Lifesaver team equips each participant, or member, with a wrist or ankle transmitter. If a member is reported missing, the team tracks the radio frequency.
The May 27 rescue was the first one in the Boothbay region. “We arrived at the scene within minutes and found the member just a couple of streets down from her home,” Temple said. “This is a nationwide program with a 100% success rate. It’s a free program and we invite anyone with a cognitive problem to apply.”
Applications are available on the Lincoln EMA website. Temple reported the program has openings.
The county’s team combines EMA personnel and local volunteers who are typically volunteer firefighters. The team is trained in using tracking equipment to find missing members in a quick, efficient manner. Temple explained, in an hour a person can be as far as four miles from home. The Lifesaver program ensures the member can be found quickly to better provide for their safety. “It’s getting warmer and the bugs are out so it becomes more challenging for members who find themselves away from home. The program has proven to be a way of finding missing members before they encounter a dangerous situation,” she said.