Family thankful for tracking device after son wanders off - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Family thankful for tracking device after son wanders off

Ty West has been enrolled in Project Life Saver for the past four years. (Source: WALB) Ty West has been enrolled in Project Life Saver for the past four years. (Source: WALB)
Ty wears his tracking device around his ankle. (Source: WALB) Ty wears his tracking device around his ankle. (Source: WALB)
Ty's mother is with him most of the day. (Source: WALB) Ty's mother is with him most of the day. (Source: WALB)
The Community Relations Unit with the Albany Police Department is a partner in the program. (Source: WALB) The Community Relations Unit with the Albany Police Department is a partner in the program. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

A small device that is helping save the lives of children and adults all over the world. And it's offered right here in South Georgia. 

The tracking device is operated through Project Lifesaver, a national program that has made its way into South Georgia.

Families who use it said it gives them a sense of security. 

"In my heart, my son was injured. He was injured because he had been gone just that long," said Ann West as she explains the moments when her son was lost. 

For West, it was a moment when her heart nearly stopped.

Like any mom she was busy. Company had just arrived. She turned her back for a minute to answer the phone and the next minute her son, who has both Down syndrome and autism, was gone. 

"I stood at the end of the driveway crying and praying," said West. She had looked all over the neighborhood, but couldn't find her son.

Ty West was later found safe, under a neighbors carport.

West said she didn't want to feel the terror again. She started doing research about Project Lifesaver, a nationwide program that puts a transmitter band on the child or adult. 

"I contacted Phyllis, I contacted APD and they stepped up to the plate," said West.

APD purchased the equipment for the program four years ago after West talked to them about it.

Since then they've been able to track Ty's band. 

"We go to an area where we believe Ty may have wandered off to," explained Community Relations Coordinator Phyllis Banks. "We use a waving motion in the area we believe he wandered off to and it beeps the closer we get to Ty."

Nationwide the average time the system and law enforcement is able to find the child is 30 minutes. 

Both West and police department officials said the program has been a success for them. 

"Time is truly of the essence so we have to do and have things in place that will help us find the child as quickly as possible," said Banks.

Ann West said she's thankful the police department has her back. 

"To have a team like that, to back you up and help you care for your child brings a lot of reassurance and relief," explained West, with a smile on her face. 

Ty knows too about his bracelet. He ties it into his daily routine.

In the morning he knows to brush his teeth, make his bed and check the battery life on the device. 

While the bracelet gives mom and dad a sense of comfort, it also gives the family a stronger relationship with the law enforcement community. 

Ty now recognized Banks as his friend. 

The tracking device is mostly for kids with special needs. 

Those that are at risk to wander, those who can't really communicate are candidates for the device. 

It can also be used for elderly people. 

If your loved one has Dementia or Alzheimer's disease, you can get it for them.

To get one through APD you have to live in Albany. 

To get one through the Lee County Sheriff's Department, you have to live within the county.

There is a lengthy application you must fill out. 

Once complete, police said it's pretty easy from there. 

Someone gave the Albany Police Department a donation so they can fund the devices for people for the first year. 

After that, it's $15 a month.

If you are interested you can call Albany Police Department's Community Relations Unit at 229-431-2100 or the Lee County Sheriff's Office at (229) 759-6012. 

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