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Thursday, March 22 News

Wanderers returned through 'Project Lifesaver'

The Darien Police Department has launched "Project Lifesaver," a program designed to bring people who are at risk of wandering, including those with Alzheimer's disease, autism, Down syndrome and dementia home safely.

"This program is a resource that families and caregivers can use to be proactive in assisting their loved ones who are at risk of wandering due to a cognitive condition," Police Lt. John Lawlor said.

According to the department, the program uses the most reliable electronic tracking equipment available. Clients enrolled in the program wear a small personalized transmitter around their wrist or ankle. If a client goes missing, a caregiver notifies a Project Lifesaver agency, like the Police Department, and a trained team responds. Using a mobile locator tracking system that detects the client's signal, the average recovery time for a Project Lifesaver client is 30 minutes, 95 percent less time than standard operations, according to the department.

Spearheaded by Dennis Hanlon, of the First Congregational Church of Darien, the Police Department partnered with Maplewood Senior Living, the Community Fund of Darien, the Darien Police Association and Family Centers to establish and fund the program.

Through these efforts, "transmitters" for clients are offered at no cost but participants must be residents of Darien. The funding also provided training to a team of Darien police officers. The training consisted of search-and-rescue techniques and in the use of the latest electronic tracking systems. In addition, members have been trained to successfully communicate with those who have a propensity to wander, and they are well-versed in the techniques used to gain the trust of those who may be disoriented and anxious.

For more information to sign up, contact Lawlor at 203-662-5342 or email him projectlifesaver@darienct.gov. For an application, visitdarienpolice.org.