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Two additional location transmitters may help bring peace of mind to families of two area Alzheimer's patients after the Columbia County Sheriff's Office received a funding grant.

Sheriff Dennis Richards announced Wednesday that the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Assistance Program awarded the department a grant to fund two location transmitters plus a year's supply of batteries and bands for each transmitter.

"We got approved on April 28," Richards said on Thursday.

Project Lifesaver is a national program that provides location transmitters to those with autism, Down syndrome, Alzheimer's disease or other diagnosed conditions who tend to stray and may not respond to searchers or be able to identify who they are or their address.

The transmitters, worn on a wrist or ankle, allow law enforcement officers to more quickly locate them if they are missing; the signal can be traced from up to a mile away.

About 13 people are on the Columbia County program; about half are Alzheimer's patients, Richards said.

Richards spearheaded a fundraising effort in 2007 that netted enough donations to get Project Lifesaver off the ground in Columbia County and to keep it going.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office began the program in January 2008 and keeps tracking equipment in Pardeeville and Portage to allow authorities quick access should anyone with a transmitter become lost.

No taxpayer money is used to fund the program, Richards said.

After a startup cost of $300, the charge is $80 a year for 12 bands and 12 batteries; money is available, thanks to donations from the community, to pay for those who can't afford the cost. Caregivers test the battery daily, and log each test; monthly visits by local law enforcement officers also are logged.

Richards said ability to pay isn't a barrier for families who need the transmitters.

"If someone can't even make a donation, that's fine; they are still going to get the equipment if the qualify for it," Richards said.

Nationwide, more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies are members of Project Lifesaver. Founded in 1999, the program has been instrumental in locating more than 2,100 persons, with an average search time of 30 minutes.

Money for the grant was provided by the federal Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Anyone interested in the program may call Richards or Deputy Emergency Management Director Kathy Johnson at 742-4166.