Radio Waves Help Find Lost Loved Ones in Lea County

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

HOBBS, NEW MEXICO - If a child with Autism or an elderly Alzheimers suffer goes missing, the danger increases by the minute. That's why the Lea County Sheriff's Office is honing in on a new way to cut down the search time.
It's a simple system using radio waves and bursts of frequency.

"This works on regular radio waves," Captain Jim Willmeth explained when it gets louder, investigators are getting warmer but if it begins to sound faint the search is going cold.

"It's taking our average time from hours and days to locate people to less than thirty minutes," Sheriff Rod Coffman said about the nationwide program.

Deputies showed NewsWest 9 how it works. First they slapped on a bracelet that emits a frequency and told us to walk. In a real search, Alzheimer sufferers, children with autism or anyone else who may wander off, might run into danger and fast.

"They may wander into traffic. They may wander into a natural hazard, so time is of the essence," Captain Willmeth says some times the wanderers can end up kidnapped or worse.

So far, only two people are signed up in Lea County for the service but the Sheriff wants others to give wearing the life saving bracelets a try.

"When we get a call and they let us know that this person has wandered off and is missing, we send people to the last known location and we'll start using those antennas and start tracking them," Sheriff Rod Coffman said.

If you are interested in Project Life Saver, call the Lea County Sheriff's office at 575-396-3611.

Project Care is another program the Sheriff hopes victims of domestic violence or those suffering with a medical condition will start enrolling in. The program offers old cell phones that only dial 911.

There is no cost to enroll in either program.