An autistic 12-year-old boy who wandered away from home was found by Omaha police using a device that picked up a signal from a transmitter the boy was wearing.

Officers were sent to 29th and Ohio Streets at 3:56 p.m. Sunday to help find the boy. The boy’s mother had told authorities that her son was enrolled in Project Lifesaver, a program designed for people with autism and related disorders who are prone to wandering.

The boy was wearing a battery-operated wristband that emits a tracking signal with a unique radio frequency. When someone with one of the wristbands is reported missing, first responders can tune a tracker to that frequency and start searching.

At 4:02 p.m., police said, an officer with a Project Lifesaver receiver arrived and got a notification that the missing boy was within a quarter mile of him. At 4:04 p.m., he found the boy near 30th Street and took him home.

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In July, the Omaha Police Department partnered with the Autism Action Partnership to begin Project Lifesaver training. Funds for the training and equipment were provided by the Jullia Rose Foundation.

Families began enrolling in the program in September. The department has eight receivers that are kept in spots across the city.

Omaha police said it was the department’s first successful use of the technology.

Michaela Ahrens, senior director of programs for the autism group, said the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office has used the system twice to find a boy in La Vista.

“It’s just been a great program,” she said.

Project Lifesaver bracelets still are available. For information about how to enroll in the program, people may contact the Autism Action Partnership at 402-763-8830.

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Bob Glissmann helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow him on Twitter @BobGlissmann. Phone: 402-444-1109.

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