The Greenville City Fire Department (GCFD) has partnered with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to launch Project Lifesaver, a program that provides public safety agencies and caregivers with equipment and training to quickly locate individuals who are prone to the life threatening behavior of wandering, including those with Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome. Bon Secours St. Francis Health System awarded GCFD with a $20,000 Bon Secours Mission Fund grant to purchase equipment that will be provided to low-income families at no cost.
Eligible applicants will receive a Project Lifesaver kit, which includes a small transmitter that can be worn on the wrist or ankle. The device emits an individualized frequency signal 24 hours a day and if the person becomes missing, the caregiver would call 911 and provide the person’s unique frequency. Trained emergency responders equipped with receivers that emit audible signals indicating the proximity of the missing person’s transmitter would then be dispatched to their last known location. According to Project Lifesaver International, the non-profit organization that pioneered thetracking technology for the search and rescue of individuals with cognitive impairments, the average recovery time for certified Project Lifesaver agencies is 30 minutes.
The grant from Bon Secours St. Francis Health System enabled GCFD to purchase 30 transmitters and four receivers. It also helped pay for the one-time fee for GCFD to become a Project Lifesaver member agency and training for local public safety personnel, including Greenville City Fire Department, Greenville Police Department, the Greenville County Emergency Response Team and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Over 65 first responders recently participated in a joint search method training at Conestee Park.
“We at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System understand that ministry is done best in collaboration with other organizations to meet the needs of the Greenville community. We are honored to partner with the Greenville City Fire Department to bring this needed technology to our area,” said Alex Garvey, Senior Vice President of Mission at Bon Secours St. Francis.
City residents who receive Medicaid, Medicare or SNAP benefits are eligible to receive a transmitter and a year’s worth of batteries at no charge. Residents who do not meet the eligibility requirements can still participate in the program but will need to purchase or lease a transmitter directly from Project Lifesaver International. Caregivers for persons with dementia, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and other cognitive issues can apply online at http://fire.greenvillesc.gov/ProjectLifesaver or call 467-4450 for more information.
“One of the many benefits of having a community risk reduction team at GCFD is the ability to look at our services from a different perspective and identify segments of our community that we can better serve,” said Seth James, Project Lifesaver Coordinator for GCFD. “Through the generous support of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, we’re able to launch a program that will hopefully give much-needed peace of mind to those families in our community who are affected by a diagnosis which causes their loved one to wander or not be able to communicate where they are.”