What is Project Lifesaver?
The Portage County Sheriff’s Office is a proud partner in Project Lifesaver of Portage County. Along with our partners at the Stevens Point and Plover Police Departments, and in coordination with the Aging and Disability Resource Center, Community Care of Central Wisconsin, and Portage County Health and Human Services, this program works to help protect some of the most vulnerable citizens of our area.
What Do We Do?
The primary mission of Project Lifesaver is to provide timely response to save lives and reduce potential injury for adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism, and other related conditions or disorders. Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency, and a trained emergency team responds to the wanderer’s area. Most who wander are found within a few miles from home, and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. Recovery times for clients average 30 minutes — 95% less time than standard operations.
Who are We?
Project Lifesaver is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization that bridges the technological gap for “at risk” populations and public safety agencies. They provide police, fire/rescue and other first responders with a comprehensive program on the use of specialized electronic search and rescue equipment, technology and procedures, as well as teaching rescuers how to effectively communicate with people afflicted with cognitive conditions, all of which are essential to a successful rescue.
Project Lifesaver has over 1,600 participating member agencies throughout 50 states in the U.S., six provinces in Canada, and Australia, and has performed over 3,000 searches over the last 18 years with no serious injuries or fatalities ever reported. Project Lifesaver provides equipment, training, certification and support to law enforcement, public safety organizations and community groups throughout the country and nation.
In addition, Project Lifesaver develops public outreach programs to educate others about the issue of wandering, and constantly work toward developing public policy and effective law enforcement response to help save lives and fulfill our mission in “Bringing Loved Ones Home.”
There are 18 officers that make up our core of specialists, with Portage County sheriff’s deputies, as well as police officers from Stevens Point and Plover Police Departments. In 2016, we had 28 clients; 10 with Dementia/Alzheimer, and 18 suffering from Autism. The cost of each client is approximately $350 to outfit one person for one year. The tracking equipment runs about $2000 each, and we have 4 in the County.