The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) team would like to share a success story from their Project Lifesaver Program and remind the public about this valuable resource. On Saturday, January 1, 2022, at 4:14 a.m., the Santa Maria Police Department requested assistance from the Sheriff’s Office to locate an at-risk missing adult who had been gone for several hours from the area of South Pine and West Boone Streets. The missing person was enrolled in Project Lifesaver through the Sheriff’s Office, an electronic monitoring system that locates persons with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Downs Syndrome or similar cognitive disorders that may cause the individual to become confused and wander.
Participants of Project Lifesaver are given special wristbands with transmitters that emit silent signals picked up only by unique receivers & directional antennas. The system consists of a wristwatch sized transmitter that sends out a unique radio frequency. The transmitter is affixed to an at-risk person by a non-removable bracelet at the wrist or ankle. Special omni-directional vehicle antennas and hand-held directional antennas allow rescuers to pinpoint the transmitter’s location from up to a mile away. If the antenna is held in an aerial position, such as an aircraft, the signal can be detected up to seven miles away. In the event a participant wanders off and the Sheriff’s Department is notified, the SAR team is deployed utilizing Project Lifesaver’s specialized tracking equipment to locate the missing person.
When they received the page for assistance, 10 SAR volunteer team members responded to search for the missing person. The team tracked the missing person to Main Street, near Blosser and continued narrowing their search area. After only an hour of tracking, SAR found the missing person lying in a muddy field on West Main Street between Blosser and Black Road. He was unable to get up and his clothing was soaked and covered in mud. Fire and medics responded to treat the missing person for cold exposure and ultimately transported him to an area hospital for further care and is expected to recover.
To learn more about Project Lifesaver in Santa Barbara County, please visit sbsheriff.org.
Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue is a professional, all volunteer and unpaid 501(c)3 organization. In addition to response for Project Lifesaver calls, SAR team members are highly trained in technical rope rescue, search management, search dogs, off-road operations, swift water and flood rescue, and snow rescue. As a member of the Mountain Rescue Association for over 35 years, SAR also provides mutual aid to search and rescue efforts throughout California and the United States, and partners with organizations locating lost individuals enrolled in the Project Lifesaver program. SAR will be hosting a recruitment meeting on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. at 66 S. San Antonio Road in Goleta. If you are interested in joining SAR, please consider attending this meeting. You can find more information about SAR on their website- SBCSAR.net.