Hancock County Sheriff’s Reserves Host First ‘Touch a Truck’ Event at Tomlinson Run State Park | News, Sports, Jobs

Manchester’s new volunteer firefighter, Malachi Stewart, prepares to let the children see inside the fire engine.

HANCOCK, W.Va. – Hancock Country Sherriff Reserves Sgt. Roger Stewart Jr. planned the county’s first-ever “Touch a Truck” event to help raise awareness of the Project Lifesaver program. The event also allowed children with special and sensitive sensory needs to see fire trucks and meet first responders.

The community was invited to Tomlinson Run State Park last Sunday to participate in the free event.

Stewart explained how some children are afraid of sirens, lights and uniformed first responders. None of the fire trucks or police cars had their lights or sirens on, and those in uniform took their time showing the children the fire trucks, police cars and explaining their jobs. Stewart says the event was an opportunity for the children to “see beyond the uniform” and hopefully know they can trust first responders and not be afraid in an emergency. While the children received a “In the wings” visits of trucks and cruisers, parents received information on the Lifesaver project.

Project Lifesaver is a search and rescue system that benefits people with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, or other cognitive impairments that can cause a person to mislead. The program uses radio transmitters and electronic tracking equipment. A cognitively impaired person is given a wristband transmitter to wear, and if the person gets lost, specially trained electronic search specialists use Project Lifesaver equipment to locate them safely.

“At the moment, we do not charge for the program [Project Lifesaver]. We have enough donations and sponsors through Project Lifesaver that we don’t have to charge families to enroll them in the program,” said Stewart. He encourages anyone interested in enrolling or learning more about the program to contact him by calling 304-564-4100 or emailing [email protected]

The program has helped the community since its launch in Hancock County in 2014. “We conducted three searches and we found them all [lost individuals] In 20 minutes,” said Stewart. He went on to say, “You are doing research that can take days or weeks. You know? You never know how long the search for a missing person will take, and this program cuts it down to 20-30 minutes. You reduce labor and costs.

Project Lifesaver is an international program and has been used since 1999 to find people with dementia. Internationally, the program has found 3,906 people since its inception. “The Lifesaver Project was a 100% success with zero fatalities,” said Stewart.

The New Manchester, Newell and Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Departments were among the first responders to show their support at the event. Hancock County deputies and officers were also present. Tomlinson Run State Park donated a miniature golf course and the space where the event was held. Sparkle Market donated hot dogs and refreshments. The whole event was free.

With huge community support, Stewart wants to make “Touch a Truck” an annual event. Events like these bring knowledge to the community, Stewarts says, and he says he wants people to know about the programs Hancock County has to offer. “I want more people to know about the program and not be afraid to contact someone. Everyone has a hard time with their loved ones sometimes,” Steward concluded. For more information, please visit sheriffweb.hancockcoingov.org/reserve-division.

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