Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Receives Funds From National Autism Association for Project Lifesaver Equipment

Saturday, December 20, 2008 General News J E 4

PORTSMOUTH, R.I., Dec. 19 The National Autism Association (NAA) announced today that the Portsmouth Fire Department is the newest grant recipient of Project Lifesaver funding through NAA's FOUND Program, making Portsmouth the first town in the state to implement Project Lifesaver. FOUND was developed by NAA to counter the rise in wandering-related deaths among children with autism.

Project Lifesaver is a nationwide tracking program established to quickly locate and rescue missing persons with cognitive impairments and developmental disabilities. Individuals at risk are fitted with a wristband that emits a unique radio signal which can be tracked by search personnel. The program has a 100% recovery rate and an average search time of less than thirty minutes. Portsmouth was chosen by an anonymous donor who contacted NAA.

"Our department is thrilled to have received funding from NAA to implement this vital program," said Fire Chief Jeffrey Lynch. "Last year, we were involved in a search and rescue effort to locate a man from Prudence Island who suffered from Alzheimer's and wandered from his home. We were able to locate him the following day, but he later succumbed to his injuries. Had he been wearing a wristband, we would have found him almost immediately and his tragic death could have been prevented."

Wristbands will be available to Portsmouth residents who qualify, including those affected by Autism or Alzheimer's. Families with a loved one at risk should contact Chief Lynch at 401-683-1200 for information.

This week it was announced that the price has been lowered for Project Lifesaver equipment. Counties can now be funded for $3000. "This means NAA will be able to fund more counties - and large cities like Orlando - which is excellent news," said NAA Executive Director Rita Shreffler.

The lower price will also make it easier for counties to raise their own funds to implement the program. Fundraising tools established by NAA can be downloaded at

The FOUND Program relies heavily on donations. Donors can adopt an entire county or a partial county for any amount by visiting and clicking on "make a donation."

To learn more about Project Lifesaver, visit Parents and caregivers can also find safety tips on NAA's site at


Wendy Fournier (Portsmouth, RI) 401-835-5828

Lori McIlwain (Cary, NC) 919-741-1646

SOURCE National Autism Association


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