Laird family moved by story

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Debbie and Jim Laird, center, present a $1,000 check on behalf of the Jake Laird Memorial Fund to Sheriff Mark Bowen, left, and David McCormick for the Hamilton County Project Lifesaver program. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

Debbie and Jim Laird, center, present a $1,000 check on behalf of the Jake Laird Memorial Fund to Sheriff Mark Bowen, left, and David McCormick for the Hamilton County Project Lifesaver program. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

After reading the Project Lifesaver story in the Current in Westfield on Sept. 10, Westfield residents Mike and Debbie Laird contacted the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to make a donation. The Lairds are the parents of fallen Indianapolis Police Officer Timothy “Jake” Laird, who gave his life in the line of duty on Aug. 18, 2004. After Jake’s death the Lairds established the Jake Laird Memorial Fund, which provides funds for local law enforcement agencies in need of new equipment, innovating new programs and assists with officer hardships.

“It’s really cool. It fits right in with part of our mission,” Mike said when presenting the check. “I didn’t know we had anything like this.”

Project Lifesaver was developed to enhance success in locating missing persons with Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, and others who are at risk to wander.

“It’s a great program, a successful program,” Sheriff Mark Bowen said. “It helps to keep track of folks at risk that are young and old.”

The Hamilton County chapter was formed in 2009 to address the needs of the community’s growing Autistic and Alzheimer’s populations. Hamilton County Project Lifesaver Coordinator David McCormick said there are currently 34 clients using the program. In almost 3,000 searches nationwide, no serious injuries or deaths have been reported for Project Lifesaver clients and the average recovery time is under 30 minutes.

“Since 2009, the program has had eight searches of lost program members with two being adults with Alzheimer’s. All eight were found safely,” McCormick said, adding the program is provided at no cost to clients and families in Hamilton County.

McCormick said each client is issued a wristband that transmits a unique silent radio signal. When a caregiver reports the person missing, local law enforcement and fire officials respond with state-of-the-art tracking equipment. Project Lifesaver staff visit the homes and change transmitter batteries every 30 days. McCormick said the $1,000 donation would be used to purchase more transmitters.

For more information, call 776-6757 or e-mail project.lifesaver@hamiltoncounty.in.gov.

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