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Project Lifesaver and Silver Alert

Project Lifesaver is a search-and-rescue program designed for individuals who may be at risk of wandering, putting themselves in life-threatening situations. Participants wear a wrist bracelet with a small transmitter that emits a radio signal that law enforcement can track when someone goes missing. The goal is to provide a timely response in order to reduce potential injury and save lives for adults and children who wander because of cognitive issues. This current program (2020–2021) is spearheaded by the Bethlehem Police and Health Departments. Future goals include expansion to other police departments through training opportunities and financial sustainability so that bracelets can be provided to additional individuals.

Silver Alert is a public notification system that broadcasts information about missing persons, especially older adults with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other related mental limitations. Pennsylvania refers to this type of alert as the Missing Endangered Person Advisory System (MEPAS), managed by the Pennsylvania State Police. If someone with dementia or a similar cognitive limitation goes missing, a call to the police will trigger the MEPAS alert system. Vital information will be sent to local media outlets, such as TV and radio. An alert will also be placed on highway message signs, including a description of clothing, car if indicated, and where the person was last seen.

There is interest in the Pennsylvania legislature in specifying “Silver Alert” as a distinct group for older Pennsylvanians with cognitive issues. Senator Pat Browne has been an advocate and is currently co-sponsoring a memo with hopes of introducing a bill in the near future.