Senator Browne, General Shapiro Announce Funding for Project Lifesaver

Senator Pat Browne and Attorney General Josh Shapiro were joined today (July 27) at Country Meadows of Allentown by local emergency agencies, representatives from memory care facilities and national and local advocates to announce state funding to support a Project Lifesaver grant program in Lehigh County. Project Lifesaver aids families and local emergency agencies to help search, locate and rescue missing persons with special needs.

“When someone is missing or wanders away from their family, time is of the essence and it is critical to identify as soon as possible where that person may have wandered to narrow the search for them,” Senator Browne said. “The technology and equipment used through the Project Lifesaver program reduces the time it takes to identify the location of a missing person for family, local emergency and law enforcement agencies and memory care facilities.

“I was pleased to work with Attorney General Shapiro, Martha Lieberman, Gene Saunders and many others advocates, supporters and local emergency agencies and memory care facilities in identifying the need and interest in expanding the Project Lifesaver program and to be able to provide this funding.”

This $100,000 grant program was created pursuant to the passage of Act 44 of 2018 (Fiscal Code) and is funded and administrated through the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

“Protecting our senior citizens and special needs community from abuse, neglect and harm is a top priority of my office,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Care-dependent Pennsylvanians suffering from Alzheimer’s and other conditions can sometimes require extra protection or preventative measures to help keep them safe. I’m proud to partner with Senator Browne on this initiative that will provide training and equipment to assist caregivers in the event that someone goes missing.”

The grant program will provide the resources for selected recipients to become a Project Lifesaver member or associate and to fund the purchase of and training on the state-of-the-art technology and radio transmitting bracelets used in the search for missing individuals.

Already-established Project Lifesaver members and associates are also eligible for this grant program and now will be able to purchase additional or updated equipment and additional bracelets.

A member is an agency that is trained in the technology and has the equipment to monitor and track the bracelets. An associate is an agency that has the training and can provide bracelets, but must have an association with a member since they do not have the equipment themselves.

The equipment and technology consists of personalized radio transmitting devices, antennae and bracelets.

“Receiving $100,000 for Project Lifesaver of the Lehigh County is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow providing the opportunity for coverage in most of the area,” said Martha Lieberman, Project Lifesaver Coordinator for the Lehigh Valley. “Providing this coverage to Senior Memory Care facilities is a new opportunity to keep more loved ones safe. The grant provides for more coverage to Lehigh County to help locate those who wander due to Autism, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive conditions that cause wandering. With these funds, more families can now have that extra peace of mind that their loved ones can be safer than before. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Senator Pat Browne and CEO/Founder of Project Lifesaver Gene Saunders worked long and hard to bring this gift to us. Thank you for this amazing, lifesaving gift to the families in Lehigh County.”

Tragic incidents over the past few years in the Lehigh Valley have also drawn more attention to the importance of expending the Project Lifesaver program. Yelitza Batista’s autistic son, Jayliel, tragically drowned on New Year’s Eve in 2016 after wandering away from his home.

“I am grateful for the money Project Lifesaver is receiving today, it will help Autistic children and Alzheimer’s patients,” Batista said. “It will help by having more bracelets available to families and more agencies participating in the program and giving families more peace of mind.”

The non-profit organization Project LifeSaver International will provide the training and state-of-the-art technology equipment and radio transmitting bracelets to the qualified recipients.

The program places personalized radio transmitters on identified persons that assist caregivers and local emergency agencies in locating those individuals who cannot help themselves. With the use of this technology, local emergency teams responding to calls have an average rescue time of less than 30 minutes. 

“It is tremendous that Senator Browne, along with others, had the foresight and concern for the community to initiate this funding to help protect those citizens at risk of wandering and becoming lost,” said Gene Saunders, Founder and CEO of Project Lifesaver International.

Project Lifesaver is now in 1,600 agencies in 50 states, seven provinces in Canada and Australia and has been credited with over 3,400 recues.

New Project Lifesaver members through these grants are Police Departments in Coplay, Macungie, Upper Macungie, Upper Saucon and Whitehall along with Wolf Pack Search and Rescue. Memory Care Facilities which will also be able to become members are: Country Meadows of Allentown, In Spirit Senior Living, Sacred Heart Senior Home and South Mountain Memory.

Lehigh County’s Sheriff’s office will become a new Project Lifesaver associate, while Police Departments in Allentown, Bethlehem, Emmaus, Salisbury and South Whitehall will all be eligible for additional equipment or bracelets.

About Project Lifesaver International

Project Lifesaver was established in April of 1999 as an initiative of the 43rd Search and Rescue Company of the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office.  Its mission is to use state of the art technology in assisting those who care for victims of Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Down Syndrome, and any other cognitive condition that causes wandering. 

Project Lifesaver International is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headed by retired law enforcement. Funding is used directly for programs, rescues, and educational expenses.