Law enforcement agencies from Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and the Wiregrass are training in Ozark to find missing persons faster.
Thirteen deputies and officers from the southeast are in Ozark this week for Project Lifesaver International, training in searching for missing people with mental diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Autism and Down Syndrome.
"They're trained with actual flying so they can hear any sounds of the helicopter being in the air, tracking from the air techniques, we train from the air. It gives them the best training that you could give them," says Chief of Operations Barry Thacker of Project Lifesaver International.
Officers have been training in the classroom all week on the search techniques, but now, they are taking what they've learned to the field.
Meteorologist Matt Posgai has agreed to become the ‘missing person’.
Project Lifesaver will load him with the transmitter that would normally be in the bracelet. Then, they will go through, step by step to see just how the police department or any law enforcement agency would track a missing person.
So, after getting Matt ‘lost’, we hopped on board with the aviation crew.
We knew the last point he was seen, and from there, we searched for Matt's location told by the bracelet's locator.
After searching for about 15-30 minutes, we found Matt about a mile away from his last known location.
Project Lifesaver officials say using technology like this improves response time and the chances of finding a missing person, alive.
"With this helicopter, the range increases up to 5-7 miles. So in essence, when the helicopter breaks the tree line, they're going to get the frequency immediately. It's no contest with the helicopter in the air," says Thacker.
Officials say not all people with a mental disease like Alzheimer’s will get a bracelet; only those that have a high chance of ‘wandering’ away.
The Dale County Sheriff's Office played host to the training.
Next up? The deputies and officers will take an instructors course, so they can take what they've learned back to their agencies.