Questions? Call us: (814) 781-3050 or 1-800-341-LIFT


Life and Independence for Today (LIFT)
Life and Independence for Today (LIFT) - Dedicated to the empowerment of all people with disabilities

Project Lifesaver

Started in 1999, Project Lifesaver is an award winning program consisting of police, sheriff, search and rescue, fire, public safety departments and other emergency responders.  Individuals with the tendency to wander wear a small transmitter (bracelet) on their wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal.  When the caregiver calls 911 to report a missing individual, they will have the ability to recognize the individual as a Project Lifesaver client, thus saving valuable time. The search and rescue teams will use Project Lifesaver receivers to track the signal being emitted by the individual’s transmitter, thus saving valuable time.  A typical search for these individuals takes approximately 9 hours. At a cost of $1,500 per hour, the average search comes to a total of $13,500.  With Project Lifesaver, the average search is 30 minutes and to date they have a 100% success rate with over 3,300 rescues.

Project LifesaverA three day training, October 11-13 was provided by Project Lifesaver National Trainer, Timothy Caldwell, Retired Deputy Sheriff.  The training was held at the Elk County Office of Emergency Services on Ridgmont Avenue in Ridgway.  Taking part in the training were individuals from the Elk County Sheriff’s Department, Elkland Search and Rescue and LIFT; they will all be certified as Project Lifesaver electronic Search Specialists. Additionally those personnel were also certified as “Train the Trainers” to train and certify people within their own organizations.

Training began with classroom instruction on the history of Project Lifesaver and moved into the study of specific disabilities such as: Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Down Syndrome.   Individuals with these disabilities can have the tendency to wander.  The training transitioned to field exercises utilizing the transmitters and receivers.  Students were provided scenarios and used the receivers to triangulate or leap frog to locate the “missing person”.  The training difficulty ranged from searches within a few hundred yards out to approximately a mile from a location where the “missing person” was last seen.  The objective was to locate the “missing person” within a thirty minute time period. 

LIFT has already had several individuals and agencies who have reached out to learn more about the program and refer loved ones.  LIFT will also be reaching out to human service agencies throughout Elk County to educate them on the benefits of Project Lifesaver, which will enable them to appropriately make a referral.     LIFT is developing criteria to identify potential Project Lifesaver clients; this will most likely include a referral from a caseworker and/or a physician’s prescription.  We are hopeful that the transmitters will be available in the very near future.

Caregivers of Project Lifesaver clients will have specific responsibilities, which will include: a daily check of the battery, maintaining logs and immediately calling 911 if the client wanders away.  Clients and caregivers will be required to agree to permit LIFT staff to come into the home to replace the battery every 60 days.  This visit will also serve as a “wellness check”.

A good part of the training brought awareness to the struggles that families as caregivers experience while caring for people with certain disabilities, especially those who tend to wander.  Project Lifesaver and its technology will certainly bring peace of mind to those families and caregivers.   One of the issues we will be firming up over the next week or two is establishing the protocol to get this technology to the location where and when it is needed.  When a person with a disability wanders away and becomes lost, it is treated as an emergency.  Every second counts.  After 24 hours missing there is only a 50% chance of finding the person alive.  The quicker we can close that time gap from the time a person is last seen to the arrival of trained electronic search specialists the more successful we can be.  As of today, Project Lifesaver has a 100% success rate.

The cost for each bracelet is $350.00.  However, it is our intent to help lessen the financial burden of the families.   LIFT has received grants from Women who Care and the Harrison and Muriel Dauer-Stackpole Family Fund and will continue grant writing efforts. To further increase Project Lifesaver-Elk County’s funds, LIFT is holding a fundraiser and partnering with civic and non-profit organizations.

Project LifesaverLIFT’s fundraiser is raffle for $1,000 in groceries to be drawn on November 15. If you would like to purchase tickets, please call the office at 781-3050 to make arrangements.  Any businesses, groups or individuals who would like to make a donation to Project Lifesaver can do so by sending a check to Project Lifesaver C/O LIFT, 503 E. Arch St.  St. Marys, PA  15857. 

To learn more about Project Lifesaver or schedule a presentation or demonstration, please contact Hope Weichman or Sheila Mazzaferro at the above number.

As a community, we want to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighbors….through Project Lifesaver-Elk County, family members and caregivers of those with the tendency to wander will have a piece of mind knowing their loved ones are safe.