I was introduced to Project Lifesaver by Officer Stoothoff of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. He recently attended a breakfast meeting of the Long Island Chapter of the National Aging-In-Place Council.
Project Lifesaver is an emergency response locator service capable of finding individuals diagnosed with cognitive impairments which may cause them to wander and become lost.
There is an emphasis my this non-profit to bring the device national, although not all areas of the country are serviced yet.
Project Lifesaver combines proven radio technology with specially trained search and rescue teams, typically comprising local police and/or sheriff’s office.
(Office Stoothoff with fellow officer at recent NAIPC breakfast demonstrating Project Lifesaver)
The transmitter itself is smaller than a quarter and each transmitter has its own unique frequency.
Once a caregiver has notified the local search-and-rescue team (ie: police and/or sheriff) that a client is lost, this search-and-rescue team is dispatched to the last known location of the client.
While en route they activate a vehicle-mounted locator tracking system and begin searching. A hand-held unit is used for areas inaccessible by the search vehicle. The transmitter signal can be scanned for from the ground or the air from a distance of several miles.
How To Enroll
You need to first determine whether or not the device is accessible in your area. To do this contact I would recommend visiting their national website and using their locator to find the nearest law enforcement agency that acts as the local search-and-rescue team.
From there, your local office will send you an enrollment application.
Criteria To Determine Eligibility
- Clients must be a resident of the municipality that the search-and-rescue team serves.
- Person’s with a history of wandering related to cognitive impairments such as Autism, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Down Syndrome, Mental Retardation, etc…are considered for enrollment
- Clients must have informed consent of their legal guardian and/or caregiver
- Caregivers/legal guardians must comply with their obligations and responsibilities in testing the transmitter on a daily basis making certain the battery is operational
- Caregivers/legal guardians must understand and agree that the locating technology used in the Project Lifesaver program is not intended as a substitute for responsible elder care.
- Client must have a 24/7 caregiver (see below for alternate plan if 24/7 caregiver isn’t available)
The following equipment is provided to the caregiver upon enrollment in Project Lifesaver…
- One transmitter
- 12 vinyl strips
- 12 batteries
- One battery tester
The purchase of a one-year kit (outlined above) costs approximately $300.00 plus tax and shipping charges.
The wristband must be firmly fastened around the client’s wrist or ankle and not be removed. If removed then the search-and-rescue teams cannot determine the clients location. The transmitter’s battery must be checked daily by the caregiver of the client using the provided battery tester to ensure that the transmitter is sending out a signal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Applications can be requested via your local Project Lifesaver affiliate. After receipt of the application, that affiliate will meet with the caregiver and client to make sure that they residence is safe and to assist with the necessary paperwork. Once the equipment comes in (2-3 weeks after initial application) the program starts immediately.
What If A 24/7 Caregiver Isn’t Available?
Project Lifesaver requires a custodial caregiver to check the transmitter battery each day as well as notify the affiliate agency if the client wanders and is lost. If your loved one does not have a live-in caregiver Project Lifesaver offers the PAL (Protect and Locate) Device. For more information visit ProjectLifesaver.org.
What Happens If A Client Wanders?
Caregivers should notify the local law enforcement affiliate at the contact number they provide to initiate a search.
Is The Transmitter Waterproof?
Yes, clients can shower while wearing the device.
Is The Device Cost Covered By Insurance?
You will have to check with your insurance provider. You can get a “Letter of Medical Necessity” from the local police affiliate if needed for insurance purposes.
September 10, 2014 Update
I am pleased to announce that working with the Long Island Chapter of the National Aging-In-Place Council, StuffSeniorsNeed.com was able to arrange two corporate donations to facilitate the purchase of Project Lifesaver equipment for needy families here on Long Island.