07 Apr Alabama Power’s Energizers nation’s largest Lifesaver fundraiser
By Gilbert Nicholson, Alabama NewsCenter
Alabama Power’s Energizers are the nation’s largest single contributor for the novel search-and-rescue effort “Project Lifesaver,” as the retiree volunteer group recently pitched in a record $93,000.
“I’m proud of what we did because this program saves lives,” said Bob O’Daniel, 76, president of the Energizers, the organization of Alabama Power retirees.
Alabama also now has the distinction of all 67 counties participating in the transmitter bracelet program to locate missing people with Alzheimer’s or autism.
“We’ve had tremendous support from Alabama Power,” said Stan Stabler, director of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. “Organizations like the Energizers make projects like this a reality. Without them, it’s not possible.”
Stabler joined sheriffs from around the state at Alabama Power’s Clanton Office March 31 for a celebration to commemorate each of the state’s 67 counties reaching the milestone of having at least two radio receivers and two bracelets with transmitters. Gene Saunders, founder and CEO of Project Lifesaver, attended the event.
Each bracelet costs $300 and has its own frequency, allowing law enforcement to track individuals who get lost.
Those who qualify for free bracelets include people with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Down syndrome and cognitive disorders causing short-term memory loss.
Training is provided by Corp. Kent Smith of the Alabama State Trooper’s Aviation Unit, which is often called on for search-and-rescue missions. But the program is implemented by county sheriff departments.
“We have 5 million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s and 80,000 in the state of Alabama,” Smith said. “Sixty percent will at some time wander off. If we search nine hours for a missing person, which is the average, where are we going? To the hospital. With these bracelets, the average time it takes to find them is 15 to 30 minutes.”
The past five years, the Alabama Department of Public Safety has spent more than $500,000 and 670 hours searching for missing people.
Smith predicts Project Lifesaver will significantly reduce those numbers.
O’Daniel said the Energizers raised the money over the past four years after making Project Lifesaver the group’s main statewide project.
“The technology improves every year and the existing equipment gets outdated,” O’Daniel said. “This will continue to be our statewide project.”
Smith said the $93,000 raised by the Energizers helped provide the $4,000 starter’s fee and equipment for the last counties joining in Alabama.
“The reason we were able to give you more transmitters is the Alabama Power Energizers,” Smith told the audience.
For more information, contact the Alabama Department of Public Safety’s Aviation Unit at 334-242-4055.
This story was originally published on www.AlabamaNewsCenter.com.