Help save a life

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

It would be hard to think of a program with a more appropriate name than Project Lifesaver. The privately funded program outfits people prone to wandering, such as those with autism or Alzheimer’s, with transmitters that volunteers can track when they realize the client is missing. The result is that volunteers are literally able to save the lives of their clients by finding them before they succumb to exposure or other deadly fates.

Currently with 41 clients in Suffolk, the program outfits those in need of the service with small tracking devices around their wrist or ankle. Tracking devices are kept at each fire station, and personnel trained in the search respond when a caregiver finds their loved one is missing. The average recovery time for Project Lifesaver searches internationally is 30 minutes, according to the program’s website.

Thirty minutes is a great improvement over the hours or days searchers can spend trying to find Alzheimer’s or other patients who have gone wandering. And the peace of mind the program provides for caregivers is priceless.

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But the program itself is not without a price.

Bringing a new client into the program costs $350 for the initial setup. The battery and band on the transmitters are changed every month, a cost of about $10 each. New tracking equipment costs between $1,200 and $1,400, and some of Suffolk’s equipment is due for upgrading. Training for rescuers also has a cost.

Since the program accepts no taxpayer dollars for its operations, Project Lifesaver is always looking for private donations to help cover those costs. Clients who can afford to pay are encouraged to do so, but many cannot, and a growing population of Alzheimer’s patients and others in need of the service ensures that there is always a need for more donations.

To help offset the expenses, Project Lifesaver plans a “Project Luau” night April 25 at the Hilton Garden Inn at 100 E. Constance Road. Cocktail hour with complimentary wine will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. A buffet dinner will be served from 7 to 8, and the Rhondels will play from 8 to 11:30. Guests will get the chance to bid on items in a silent auction, and a cash bar will be available.

Tickets are $40 each or $75 per couple. A variety of sponsorship levels are available, and items for the silent auction still are needed. A table for 10 is available for $500.

To get tickets, discuss sponsorships or donate items, call Lt. Mason Copeland of the Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue at 754-8787 or Deborah Underwood at 539-1555.

Your support could literally help save a life.