Project Lifesaver International Releases Top Milestones and Rescues of 2009

Jan 04, 2010, 13:00 ET from Project Lifesaver International

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Project Lifesaver International, a non-profit organization specializing in training public safety agencies on search and rescue programs to help individuals with cognitive conditions that wander, today released their Top Milestones and Rescues of 2009.

To help combat the issue of wandering, Project Lifesaver helps train public safety agencies to conduct search and rescue efforts by using state-of-the-art technology to find those who wander due to Alzheimer's disease, autism, Down syndrome, and other cognitive conditions. These efforts have drastically reduced search times for public safety officials, and they have helped find loved ones quicker and easier with an average search time of 30 minutes. To date, Project Lifesaver agencies have rescued over 2,000 cognitively impaired individuals successfully.

Supporters of Project Lifesaver focus on the program's specialized training as the key to its success.

"I have either trained or assisted in the training of over 330 individuals from at least 16 states. Project Lifesaver provides intensive training on three major components of the program: equipment, individuals who wander and administration of the program. We are confident that each student who passes the course will be able to use the equipment with confidence and have the ability to run a successful program. Project Lifesaver has a uniformed, complete program and is there for technical support when needed." -- Sue Patalano, Wood County Sheriff's Office, WV

2009 Rescue of the Year

April 28, 2009 - Martinsville, VA -- Told by Ed Gower of the Martinsville City Sheriff's Office: "I received a call that a 77-year-old Project Lifesaver client with Alzheimer's disease had been missing for about one hour. I arrived at the home where I was met by another officer and a hired caregiver. They told me they had searched the house and their loved one was nowhere to be found. I had already started my search using the equipment when three local deputies arrived. We followed the signal about 100 yards down a slight hill into the woods, and on the right side of house, we found the missing woman sitting down in a creek bed in about six inches of water. You could not even see her until you got to the creek because it was approximately four foot deep. The woman was talking and was able to stand up. Other officers and I carried her up the hill out of the woods, and the search time for this rescue was only 28 minutes."

Other Notable Rescues

On a cloudy October evening in Raleigh, NC, an 8-year-old girl with autism wandered away with her dog from her home. She traveled through the woods, over a stream, around a pond and into a cornfield. Project Lifesaver specially trained officers at the Wake County Sheriff's Office found her in 53 minutes, and she was returned home safely.

This past summer in Florida, a 20-year-old mentally ill man went missing. Deputies trained on Project Lifesaver search and rescue procedures at the Leon County Sheriff's Office gathered equipment and launched their search. A signal was detected from the aircrew, and from there, ground units were directed to a small area of a wooded park. Ground units found the subject approximately 20 feet from the road in a heavily wooded area. The man was located in good health.

Ed Gower, recipient of the 2009 Project Lifesaver Rescue of the Year award, states, "The look of relief that we see from the family when we arrive and when we locate their loved one brings as much joy to us as it does to them. When you can actually see that what we do makes a difference in someone's life, that feeling is immeasurable."

2009 Project Lifesaver Top Milestones

  • 2,000th successful rescue completed with no serious injuries or fatalities reported with nearly 1,100 agencies now participating in the program in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
  • Virginia Commonwealth Council on Aging -- Awarded Project Lifesaver the Best Practices Award in the Senior Safety Category. This award recognizes model aging programs throughout the Commonwealth. Programs are judged for their innovation and their impact on the quality of life of older Virginians, their families and their caregivers.
  • Currently in the process of replacing outdated member agency equipment with new, state-of-the-art radio tracking equipment to help most effectively "bring loved ones home."
  • U.S. Department of Justice -- Awarded federal assistance for the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Assistance Program. The federal funding received will assist in education, awareness, equipment, and public policy efforts to help expand Project Lifesaver across the country.

For more information, please contact 1-877-580-LIFE (5433), or visit

About Project Lifesaver International

Established in 1999, Project Lifesaver International is a non-profit organization that is committed to helping families quickly find their loved ones who wander because of Alzheimer's, Down syndrome, dementia, autism, and other cognitive conditions. Project Lifesaver trains agencies on how to search for individuals who become lost by utilizing search and rescue techniques and equipment, as well as how to interact with individuals once they are found to help facilitate a safe escort home. For more information, visit

SOURCE Project Lifesaver International