Project Lifesaver bracelets help track down missing persons

Bracelets from Project Lifesaver can help police find missing persons.
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The 24-hour search for a missing teenager is prompting rescuers to get the word out about one of the newest ways for parents to track their children.

There's a bracelet available through a group called Project Lifesaver International.

It helps police find missing children and the parents who have it say the $300 bracelets are priceless.

When Laurie and Brad Burnell saw this week's news about the search for a missing 19-year-old with autism, they knew just weeks ago, that could very well have been their son.

"It was just to the point where neither of us were sleeping and we were just really scared to death. We were scared to leave his side," said Laurie.

Their son, J.C., has been known to run away before.

A new device that looks like a bracelet has changed all that and taken that fear away for the Burnells.

"It's been a blessing just to have and it's given us such a peace of mind. It's changed our lives," said Laurie of the bracelet.

It's called a Project Lifesaver bracelet and, just like it's name, the bracelet could someday save J.C.'s life if he wanders off.

Each Project Lifesaver bracelet gives off its own radio frequency. Rescue crews carry around receivers to follow that radio frequency, until they pinpoint it and find exactly who they're looking for in their search.

"Most of the clients that we have aren't able to find their way home, so they get lost," said firefighter Bill Webb, who runs Project Lifesaver for the fire departments in Hendricks County.

The departments in Hendricks County have more than 30 clients with bracelets. Some are children with special needs, others are adults.

In Hendricks County, the bracelets are free.

"Our program runs completely off of donations," explained Webb.

That's not the case, however, in most of Marion County, with just over 100 clients with the same bracelets. Clients pay for their own bracelets, but there is help with the $300 cost from the Indiana Autism Society.

Caregivers are also expected to change the batteries once a month, rather than getting a visit from a firefighter who used to do it. Indianapolis fire officials said the changes have cut expenses and allowed more people to have the bracelets.

J.C. Burnell's family said they're glad he's got one now.

"With this, I don't think I'd have any fear whatsoever right now," said Brad Burnell.

Project Lifesaver - This is a link to the national site.

Project Lifesaver Indy - See local efforts and find out how to get help for a loved one.