Project Lifesaver helps locate people prone to wandering from home

Written by on July 7, 2022

Project Lifesaver helps locate people prone to wandering from home

By Aliya Haddon
July 8, 2022

Bringing loved ones home.

That was the call to action issued earlier this week at Bethlehem City Hall.

The Bethlehem Health Bureau and Bethlehem Police Department have partnered with Project Lifesaver, a nonprofit organization that provides tracking bracelets for loved ones who are prone to wandering. 

Brittany Pantoni, community health specialist with the Bethlehem Health Bureau, explained who qualifies for the program.

“So they have to have a cognitive disability that puts them at risk of wandering,” she said. “So Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, Down syndrome – any basically cognitive dysfunction.” 

The community safety effort was introduced in the Lehigh Valley after a 5-year-old boy with autism drowned in the Lehigh Canal after wandering from his home in 2016.

The tracker can be worn as a bracelet or an anklet. It can also be placed in clothing or a handheld object. It uses radio frequencies for tracking, permitting use in any area. The bracelet remains trackable under water as well. 

Bethlehem police and more than a dozen other Lehigh Valley departments have been trained with the tracking technology. 

The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley gave a $75,000 grant to the Bethlehem Health Bureau to train departments and to buy more transmitters. 

If a loved one wearing a Project Lifesaver bracelet leaves home and their location is unknown, a call to 911 can begin the search.  

Officials say the average time for finding lost persons with Project Lifesaver is 30 minutes – 95% less time than a typical search and rescue. 

Enrollment in Project Lifesaver is free by contacting the Bethlehem Health Bureau at 610-865-7083. After signing up, the tracking device comes with a year’s worth of supplies of wrist/ankle straps and batteries that last two months. 

Zoraida Garcia, also a community health specialist with the Bethlehem Health Bureau, stressed the importance of checking the battery daily and logging it to ensure the transmitter is operating.

According to the health bureau, Bethlehem has 21 participants enrolled in the program, and now there is capacity for more.

Other presentations are scheduled for July 11 at the Pen Argyl Borough Municipal Building and July 12 at the Palmer Community Center. 

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