Cumberland County 'Lifesaver' for dementia patients could lose funding

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- Project Lifesaver is in need of a lifeline. The program provides a free GPS monitoring system for elderly residents with Dementia in Cumberland County. But the Sheriff's Office said the group that funds it is disbanding.

Geanette Edmond cherishes the family vacation she and her husband, Willie, took several years ago. Unfortunately, those are the times he doesn't remember. Edmond noticed the signs of dementia in her spouse early on.

"The forgetfulness, the hiding things," Edmond said.

However, she didn't realize how severe Willie's condition was until her husband began to wander off.

"The first time it was in Abilene. The second time it was in New York and the third time it was here," Edmond said.

From there, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office worked with Edmond to sign her husband up for Project Lifesaver. The program offers qualified residents a free GPS monitoring band that trained Cumberland County deputies can track with a small antenna and computer system.

"Cuts down our search time from hours to minutes," said Lt. S. Leak.

The program is sponsored by the Pilot Club of Fayetteville but that organization is disbanding, leaving the future of Project Lifesaver in doubt.

"The hope is that we will be able to keep this program going," Leak said.

The bands come at a price tag of $350 each, but are free to the clients. The piece of mind it gives the Edmonds is priceless.

"This gives me some security knowing that if he somehow walks off, I won't have a problem finding him," she said.

The Sheriff's Office hopes to find a new sponsor for the Project Lifesaver program. Either way, Sheriff Ennis Wright said he's committed to making sure Cumberland County's elderly are well taken care of.
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