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Renville County considers joining Project Lifesaver

A tracking receiver used by Kandiyohi County as part of its participation in Project Lifesaver is shown in this 2005 file photo. (Tribune file photo)

OLIVIA -- Renville County is looking at joining Kandiyohi County among the rural Minnesota counties participating in the Project Lifesaver tracking system.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners informally agreed to form a committee with the Sheriff's Department to explore county participation.

Chief Deputy Doug Pomplun said he has heard from some parents of autistic children who had learned of the county's possible interest and are encouraging it to join.

The nonprofit organization offers a tracking system for finding persons with cognitive disabilities who wander from caregivers. Clients wear wrist bracelets that emit a radio signal. Law enforcement agencies are equipped with tracking antennas and training to locate the signals.

The system is currently in use by 22 agencies in Minnesota, according to Bob Parrott, a volunteer with Project Lifesaver. He told the Renville County commissioners at a meeting last week that Kandiyohi, Cook, Lake and Morrison were among the first four counties in Minnesota to adopt the system.

Its advocates believe the system can save lives by making it possible to find those wearing the bracelets quickly. Most searches can be successfully completed within 30 minutes, said Parrott.

The system can also save law enforcement agencies its costs very quickly. A search for a lost person can cost thousands of dollars, he said.

The county can participate through an annual subscription or by purchasing the equipment and covering the costs for trainers. Clients can obtain bracelets at a cost of $99 plus a monthly fee of $30 for batteries and signal verification.

Renville County Commissioner John Stahl raised the possibility of county participation. He said he learned about it from colleagues with Kandiyohi County who pointed out its value.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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