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December 24, 2008 > Project Lifesaver helps law enforcement locate at-risk citizens across the country

Project Lifesaver helps law enforcement locate at-risk citizens across the country

Submitted By Amber Whittaker

For families and caregivers exploring options of how to protect a loved one who wanders away from the safety of their home die to alzheimer's, dementia, autism, intellectual disabilities or other wandering conditions, there is hope.

Started in 1999, the organization began from the ranks of a Search and Rescue group affiliated with the Chesapeake Sheriff's Office in Chesapeake, Virginia, known as the 43rd Virginia Search and Rescue Organization.

Currently, there are over 800 public safety agencies (law enforcement, EMS, fire and more) in 45 states, District of Columbia and Canada participating in the Project Lifesaver program. Since Project Lifesaver International is a non-profit organization, funding is a result of private and corporate donations and grants. Donations are used directly in for programs, rescues and educational expenses.

To date, Project Lifesaver has had over 1,800 national search and rescue calls for Project Lifesaver client maintaining a 100% recovery rate and zero fatalities.

People who are enrolled in the Project Lifesaver Program wear a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal. When caregivers notify the local Project Lifesaver agency that the person is missing, a search and rescue team responds to the wanderer's area and starts searching with a mobile locater tracking system. Search times have been reduced from hours and days to just minutes. The average rescue time, if notified, is less than 30 minutes.

Before Project Lifesaver, searches across the country were averaging 9 hours and costing taxpayers approximately $1,500 per hour. Many searches actually took days, with hundreds of responders, resulting in much higher costs and many with tragic endings.

One search in Chesapeake in 1979 cost the city $342,000 and was unsuccessful. The basic cost to start this program in an agency is less than $6,000, finding someone alive is priceless.

For more information on Project Lifesaver or a participating agency near you call (877) 580-LIFE (5433) or visit

The best way to become a Project Lifesaver client is to call the Sheriff's Department, according to Jim Volz, Project Lifesaver Team Leader for Santa Clara County Search and Rescue 120.

Call the Santa Clara County Sheriff Department toll free at (800) 211-2220 or (408) 808-4900.

For more information about Project Lifesaver services near Milpitas contact Santa Clara County Search and Rescue at and (408) 450-3100.

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