FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)
Democratic Westchester Legislators Call for Increased Promotion of County’s Project Lifesaver Program
White Plains, NY – Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) called today on County Executive Rob Astorino to increase promotional efforts for the County’s Project Lifesaver program, in which radio-frequency technology is used to find seniors who wander from their homes.
The Democratic legislators urged fast action by the Astorino Administration in the wake of last week’s death of an 88-year-old Eastchester woman who had been suffering from dementia and was missing for three days before her body was found in the Bronx River near her home.
“These tragedies are preventable, and we have the tools and technology to keep our seniors safe,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee. “But I’m afraid that not enough of our county residents know about the availability and usefulness of Project Lifesaver. It’s time to increase the County’s efforts to promote this vital service—before another tragic incident as such occurs.”
Project Lifesaver fits seniors with special battery-powered bracelets to wear on a wrist. When a senior wanders away from home, county public safety officers and local law enforcement officials can track the bracelet’s radio signal to a precise location.
Police officers and volunteers, along with K-9 units and a helicopter, searched for the missing Eastchester woman in vain before her body was found.
“No family should dread the day when one of their loved ones walks away from the home unattended and unnoticed,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “Every community and municipality in Westchester should know the County’s Project Lifesaver program can be counted on to help our seniors. There’s much more to do to make sure seniors and their families have access to this valuable program.”
According to an agreement approved in July 2012 by the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract, the County will spend $86,828—of which $80,000 comes from the Federal government—for ElderServe Licensed Homecare Services Agency, Inc. to run the Project Lifesaver program for a year. The County’s Project Lifesaver page on its website notes that although about 22,000 Westchester residents 65 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, only 58 are signed up for the program. (The page was last updated on August 15, 2012.)
Earlier today, the Astorino Administration sent out a press notice congratulating the County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services for winning two awards from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging for two of its programs.
“We have to work together and do the best job possible to protect our most vulnerable seniors,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “It’s not about the awards you win—it’s about the lives you save.”
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