(Top row left to right): Det. Sgt. Jeremiah P. Marron Jr., Chief Duane Lovello, Det. Sam Boccuzzi of the Darien Police Dept., Middle Row: Kristin Hocker Community Outreach Director Maplewood Senior Living, Carrie Bernier Executive Director The Community Fund, Front Row: Det. Elizabeth DiIorio Darien Police, Dennis Hanlon Project Lifesaver Registrar, Christine Fitzsimons Community Outreach Director Maplewood Senior Living. Not pictured: Sandra Steeves, Maplewood Senior Living. )
The Darien Police Department has recently launched “Project Lifesaver.” This nationwide program is designed to bring people who are at risk of wandering, particularly the elderly, including those with Alzheimer’s, Autism, Down Syndrome and Dementia home safely. Project Lifesaver 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 Darien Police Department, and a trained team responds. Using a mobile locator tracking system that detects the client’s tracking signal, the average recovery time for a Project Lifesaver client is 30 minutes, 95% less time than standard operations.
Spearheaded by Dennis Hanlon of the First Congregational Church of Darien, the Darien Police Department partnered with Maplewood Senior Living, The Community Fund of Darien, the Darien Police Association, and Family Centers to establish and fund this program. Through these efforts, “transmitters” for clients are offered at NO COST however participants must be residents of Darien. The funding also provided training to a team of Darien Police officers. This 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.
“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,” said Lt. John Lawlor of the Darien Police Department. For the families of children and adults with autism, Alzheimer’s or related conditions and disorders, the possibility of their loved one becoming lost is a frightening reality. The Darien Police Department offers a way to ease that anxiety: Project Lifesaver.