Manatee County SAR

Project Lifesaver

Project Lifesaver is a rapid response program that locates people with cognitive impairment(s) (i.e., Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome and dementia) who wander away from their caregivers. Members enrolled in the program wear a bracelet that contains a battery-operated transmitter that emits a tracking signal. If the member wanders away, the caregiver notifies 9-1-1. Manatee County SAR then is dispatched to the wanderer’s last known location and uses a mobile receiver to pick up the member’s signal, thus locating the person. Over 6.9 million people in the USA have Alzheimer's today. That number will triple by 2050. Well over 50% of these people wander and become lost. A lost person with Alzheimer's or other dementia represents a critical emergency as nearly half of them will die and many can become injured or fall victim to predators if they are not located within 24 hours. The number of people, families and communities experiencing this risk will grow dramatically in this decade. If you are not yet touched in some way by Alzheimer's or related disease, chances are you will be within the next several years. You will find it among neighbors, your friends, co-workers and their families, and perhaps within your own family.

How Project Lifesaver Works

People who are part of the Project Lifesaver program wear a personalized bracelet that emits a tracking signal. When caregivers notify Manatee County Search & Rescue that the person is missing, a search and rescue team responds to the wanderer's last known location and starts searching with the mobile locator tracking system. Search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. In hundreds of searches, there have been no reported serious injuries or deaths, recovery times average less than 30 minutes. The Project Lifesaver bracelet is a one-ounce battery-operated radio wrist transmitter emitting an automatic tracking signal every second, 24 hours a day. The signal is tracked on the ground by Search/Rescue Technicians, Sheriff’s Deputies or in the air by helicopter. All responders are especially trained to use the equipment to track a signal over several miles. Since each bracelet has a unique radio frequency, the Project Lifesaver search team positively locates and identifies the person who has wandered away from home or a care facility.

You may be asking “Now all this sounds nice but how much does this cost?”

A one time lease of $300.00 for the transmitter, and $7.00 a month will cover the costs of your membership.

Your $7.00 a month fee, $84 a year, covers our costs for battery and band replacement.

You will be provided a years worth of batteries and bands along with test equipment to perform a daily check of your loved one's bracelet.

What you will be left with is a peace of mind that your loved one, be it your grandfather, father, mother, or child can be located should they wander off. Of course this is not a 100% safeguard, you will still have the responsibility of taking care of your bracelet and letting us know if it is not working properly. You will have to do your part, so we can do ours.

Manatee County Visitors

For Project Lifesaver clients visiting the Manatee County area, and would like our agency to monitor your loved one while you are visiting, please call us at (941)254-6490 Ext 2. We would be proud to assist you while you conduct your visit to our area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Project Lifesaver?  

Project Lifesaver is a rapid-response program that aids victims (and their families) who wander as a result of cognitive impairments, or other afflictions.

How does Project Lifesaver work?  

The program combines technology and specially trained Search/Rescue Technicians and Sheriff’s Deputies to locate individuals who have wandered.  Project Lifesaver clients wear a “watch-type” wristband transmitter (worn on the wrist, ankle or as a necklace), which emits a tracking signal.  When a caregiver calls 911 to report that a client has wandered, a search team responds to the wanderer’s area and, while in route, activates the vehicles mobile locator tracking system. A hand-held unit is used to search for clients in areas inaccessible by vehicles.

How much does Project Lifesaver cost?  

There is a one-time cost of approximately $300 (plus tax and shipping) for the transmitter, tester, battery and wristband strap. 

How long does it take to enroll in Project Lifesaver?  

An online application is available by clicking here. A Search/Rescue Technician will then meet with the potential client/caregiver/family making certain that the area is safe for the potential client and to assist with the necessary paperwork and instructions.

How long does it take for the Project Lifesaver program to begin?  

Once you have met with a member of the Project Lifesaver Team and have the necessary equipment (transmitters take up to 2-4 weeks to ship), the program starts immediately.

How is the initial equipment purchased?  

The purchase of Enrollment Equipment is coordinated through Manatee County Search & Rescue once the client’s application is approved. 

How is monthly maintenance equipment purchased?  

As part of your monthly membership fee, a new wristband and battery will be ordered to ensure the transmitter is in serviceable condition. A Search/Rescue Technician will visit each client to conduct initial training and service to ensure the transmitter is working properly. Should the transmitter need servicing, call us at (941)254-6490.  

Does Manatee County Search & Rescue accept credit cards for equipment and service fees? 

YES! Payments can be made online, in person, or over the phone.

What happens if someone wanders?  

Caregivers must immediately dial “911” and advise the dispatcher that the individual is a client of Project Lifesaver with Manatee County Search & Rescue.  Manatee County Search & Rescue should be automatically activated when you call "911". However, please confirm with the dispatcher that Manatee County Search & Rescue has been notified to respond with the Project Lifesaver Equipment.

How long does it take to locate a missing client? 

Nationally, response times vary, but average under 30 minutes.

How frequently should a transmitter battery be changed?  

Batteries emit a signal every second (24/7) and must be changed monthly.

Is the transmitter waterproof?  

Yes.  Clients can shower and swim while wearing the transmitter.

Can a caregiver replace the battery in a client’s transmitter?  

In the initial months of the program batteries will be changed by Project Lifesaver personnel from Manatee County Search & Rescue.

Is the client’s transmitting equipment covered by insurance as a medical necessity?  

Check with your insurance carrier.  If necessary, MCSAR Coordinator Jared Leggett can provide documentation to the insurance carrier that the client in question is enrolled in Manatee County Search & Rescue's Project Lifesaver Program.

What happens if something goes wrong with my equipment?  

Call Manatee County Search & Rescue immediately (941)254-6490 Ext 2.

What happens if the transmitter is lost?  

Call Manatee County Search & Rescue immediately (941)254-6490 Ext 2.

Are there other Project Lifesaver programs?  

Project Lifesaver began in the Sheriff’s Office, Chesapeake, Virginia in 1999 and is now in over 650 Sheriff and Police agencies nationally, including Canada. 

Is there a guarantee that a person wearing a Project Lifesaver transmitter will be located?  

Client searches involve different variables and incidents are unpredictable.  In over 1,750 searches nationally, Project Lifesaver agencies have achieved a 100% success rate. Manatee County Search & Rescue feels Project Lifesaver equipment and established procedures increases the likelihood of “Bringing Your Loved Ones Home” safely.

Manatee County SAR Project Lifesaver Contact Information:

Sheena Leggett, PLS Administrator

(941) 254-6490 Ext. 104