In an effort to call attention to a proven national program that protects elderly parents of adult children afflicted with memory loss or some form of Dementia or Alzheimer's, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas agreed to seek a hiding place in the City's downtown only to be found.
The event to publicize the effectiveness of Project Lifesaver, hosted by the Porter County Sheriff's Department and Triad of Porter County, is a program that, according to the Lifesaver website, "protects those who wander and brings peace of mind to families, caregivers , and Communities."
Mayor Costas, seen in the above photo receiving a Project Lifesaver wristband from Sheriff David Lain, told Region News, "I can see how difficult it can be when an (elderly) parent is struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s and they're at risk." But the mayor who is also an Elder Law attorney says, "this program is very cost effective and it really puts the adult children at ease knowing that their parents are safer and that someone who is suffering...can be found quicker."
(L-R) Louise Thompson of Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter and Mayor Costas begin their ten minutue head-start in Central Park Plaza, Thursday Sept. 19, 2013.
Time is of the essence when searching. Louise Thompson, Community Outreach Specialist for the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Indiana Chapter, who accompanied the mayor, says the program is a lifesaver, "The mortality (rate) for someone who gets lost and is gone for over an hour...doubles every hour."
Project Lifesaver was unveiled nationally over ten years ago with Porter County being one of the first counties in Indiana to obtain the system in April of 2005, according to a previous Times article. Since that time, Sheriff David Lain says there have only been twelve participants in the county, and all of the participants were found uninjured. Triad tasked County Sheriff David Lain to approach the mayor to get the word out about the program to residents of Porter County. The sheriff says with his celebrity status, Mayor Costas is the perfect figure to champion the program's cause.
Porter County Sheriff, David Lain at the "Where's the Mayor?" Project Lifesaver event
The sheriff says, "from the standpoint of manpower...we now have technology on our side and instead of it taking hours or even days to find somebody the average amount of time it takes to find a Project Lifesaver client is 30 minutes."
Cpt. George Gonzalez of the Porter County Sheriff's Department leads one of two tracking units to find "lost" mayor
Police increase their odds of finding lost individuals by tracking with up to five units and using triangulation to get a fix on the missing subject's probably position. After a ten minute head-start, Captain George Gonzalez of the Sheriff's Department lead one of the two teams that found the mayor and Thompson's location in under ten minutes. The program runs very efficiently, Captain Gonzalez told Region News, "every client has a unique frequency (their radio transmitting wristband) and we program it into the receiver...we stop and scan from time to time to make sure we are headed in the right direction and eventually it will lead us right to the client."
Sharing in the success of Project Lifesaver after being found in the vicinity of the old jail are (L-R) Sheriff David Lain, Louise Thompson and Mayor Jon Costas
More information about Project Lifesaver is available at: http://www.projectlifesaver.org
(photos courtesy of Jay Stevens)