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The Suffolk County Sheriff’s office has implemented the Project Lifesaver program. Project Lifesaver is a countywide emergency response locator system to help locate someone with cognitive impairments who may have wandered or gotten lost.
The client wears a battery-operated transmitter bracelet that emits a signal every second of every day (24/7). When a caregiver notifies the Sheriff’s office that someone with a Project Lifesaver bracelet is missing, specially trained rescue personnel are immediately dispatched to track the signal and help locate the missing person. The signal can be tracked for up to several miles by air and by land.
Not only are the Sheriff’s personnel specially trained in tracking and rescue, they are also trained in communicating with someone who has cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, Down’s Syndrome, etc.
According to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, search times have been reduced from hours and/or days to minutes. In over 3,000 searches, Project Lifesaver International reports that there have been no reported serious injuries or deaths. Recovery times average less than 30 minutes, nationwide.
The criteria for enrolling in the program are as follows:
- Client must be a Suffolk County resident.
- Client must have the 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 child care or caregiver practices.
According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, 70% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease will wander, and more than once.
As a member of the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center Legal Advisory Committee, I applaud the efforts of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office in implementing this lifesaving program and would urge and encourage other counties to follow suit.
Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530