Pilot Club gives Lifesavers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2003

The Pilot Club of Suffolk is well-known for its contributions to this community and a recent donation to the city’s fire and rescue will provide two additional &uot;Lifesaver&uot; devices for the use of local people.

Frances Carr, a member of the Pilot Club of Suffolk, presented a check for more than $500 to the fire department’s Pam King.

Margaret Smith, a past president of Pilot, said the organization learned of the Lifesaver program at the Virginia District spring convention at the Outer Banks about three years ago.

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&uot;Then, after deciding that we wanted to assist with the program, we started out trying to get it through the Sheriff’s Department, but they were only in operation 8 hours a day,&uot; said Smith. &uot;Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs suggested that we work with fire and rescue and we went to them and spoke with Chief Cowan at the fire department. They evaluated the program and determined that it would be a valuable asset to our community, and they adopted it as one of their projects.&uot;

Smith also noted, this donation was made possible through funding raised by the &uot;Queen’s Luncheon&uot; and other events sponsored by Pilot Club of Suffolk. Each year, the organization contributes funding for many graduating seniors and to a variety of community service projects like Lifesaver. They also present &uot;Civic Awards Night,&uot; in which they recognize deserving police, fire and rescue personnel, teachers and

others who have made a difference in the community. During that special event, Pilots award plaques and checks to many agencies and individuals.

Pam King, Specialist/Investigator for the Fire Marshal’s Office, said the gift from Pilot is a real blessing at this time because the fire department was out of the devices with four children and 11 adults currently using the Lifesaver systems.

&uot;We could get them from Chesapeake’s Search and Rescue but with this donation from the Pilot Club of Suffolk we were able to purchase two additional devices. &uot;The Pilot Club donation was particularly wonderful because when they collected money, they didn’t realize the devices were $270 each instead of the $250 they’d expected. The members, at the time of the donation, reached into their pockets and gave the extra money to make sure we had the full purchase price. I was so excited when they presented us with the check because it means we can help at least two more people right away.&uot;

King is always excited when it comes to discussions about Lifesaver and in fact, admits that she lights up like a Christmas tree.

&uot;I also recall that Lifesaver was instrumental in recovery of one of our clients, Billy Elkins,&uot; she said. &uot;Mr. Elkins was lost after wandering 22-miles from his home and when he came to a heavily wooded area, he just gave up. We found him as a direct result of the signal transmitted by the Lifesaver device he was wearing. He was one who would go out in the morning to pick up cans and fortunately, he was wearing the device the morning he failed to return home. Once we picked up the signal, it took us only 21-minutes to find him. He had sat down in the woods and just given up. He was tired and dehydrated and he just couldn’t go any further. It was in the hot, dry part of August and if we hadn’t found him he would probably been in much worse shape.&uot;

Elkins still uses the Lifesaver device and in fact, his story initiated a similar program in a Texas locale. Officials there contacted the Elkins family to use his story as a means of promoting the program and seeking funding.

&uot;These people (Alzheimer victims) and their families are precious individuals who have welcomed us into their homes,&uot; said Kings. &uot;We are so grateful that we can offer this program to them.&uot;

Project lifesaver is a program close to King’s heart. Her grandmother, 83-year old Margaret Davis of Chesapeake, died Jan. 5th. She was an Alzheimer patient for seven years.]

&uot;We went through a time when Grandma was still mobile, she was a pistol in her day, and we could certainly have used something like Lifesaver,&uot; said King. &uot;My mother, Claudette Cutrell, retired to take care of her. Mom was conscious of her every movement but every caregiver can’t do that. Even though mom watched her, grandma would try to go out the door. In situations like that, some people can get out and walk away and that’s where the Lifesaver device can provide so much peace of mind.&uot;

Project Lifesaver was initiated in 1999, and adopted by the fire department in 2001.

&uot;Suffolk is the only fire department on a state and national level that is involved in the project and we are very proud to be able to provide this service to the community,&uot; said King. &uot;Our motto is our family protecting yours and this is just one more way in which we strive to help local citizens. We are grateful to Pilot Club of Suffolk for their continued support.&uot;

Any organization or individual who would like to assist in the purchase of a Lifesaver, or anyone has a person they believe could benefit from using the device should contact King at 923-2573.