As a result of an effort spearheaded by the Allentown Police Department, funds have been raised to purchase 39 bracelets to apply tracking technology for the search and rescue of children with Autism and other cognitive disorders.
At a morning news conference in City Council Chambers, Allentown Police Chief Keith Morris announced that the men and women of the department, the police union, local businesses, fraternal organizations and crime watch groups all contributed.
The donations come in the wake of the death of 5-year-old Jayliel Vega Batista who wandered away from a New Year’s Eve party in east Allentown. His body was found two days later in the Lehigh Canal. The boy’s disappearance sparked a massive search by authorities and members of the general public with many wondering what more can be done.
“In the wake of the search for Jayliel, the Allentown Police Department and its members wanted to take proactive steps to avoid such tragedies in the future’ Chief Morris said. “We are excited to partner with both our community and local organizations to bring additional awareness to the Project Lifesaver program. I personally want to thank all of those that have generously donated to ensure that bracelets are available for those in need.”
Chief Morris acknowledged donations for bracelets by the Knights of Columbus, Mountainville Crime Watch, Polish Water Ice, the Allentown Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police. Lehigh Valley Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network Public Safety, Capital Blue Cross, the Dorothy Pool Health Care Trust, Air Products, Dunne Manning and City Center Development made donations to the Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative Special Purpose Fund at Lehigh Valley Community Foundation for the purchase of bracelets.
“The Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative (DACDI) is very pleased to have the opportunity to support the Allentown Police Department in this excellent initiative, said Executive Director Don Bernhard. “The leadership exhibited by APD in creating and implementing this program to help at risk members of the community is indicative of the dedication and passion they have for serving Allentown’s citizens.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network Director, Security Services Craig Finnerty said, “There is a persistent desire of Lehigh Valley Health Network to maintain partnerships to benefit the community. And when we learn of opportunities to help our partners we try to find ways to assist. Helping the Allentown Police Department with their ongoing support of Project Lifesaver is one such example. We certainly recognize the Project’s value as it contributes to the health and safety of community members. Lehigh Valley Health Network also will be assisting the City of Bethlehem Police Department, as well as Salisbury Township Police Department with their Project Lifesaver efforts.”
Mayor Ed Pawlowski said, “These contributions will increase by five times the number of children and adults with cognitive disorders who will have an extra level of security by wearing the bracelet. “I want to offer my sincere thanks to the police officers, the members of the police union, the business and health care communities and our neighborhood organizations that have contributed to the cause.”
The bracelets will be purchased by Project Lifesaver of the Lehigh Valley. Martha Lieberman of Project Lifesaver of the Lehigh Valley says the bracelet is a great use of technology to improve the safety of the cognitively impaired. "Project Lifesaver can mean never having to say, what if! What if I had gotten a bracelet, what if I had paid better attention, what if...”
Under the Project Lifesaver program, a person with a cognitive mental disorder, for example Autism or Alzheimer’s, and is prone to wandering, is outfitted with a bracelet. The bracelet contains a “transmitter.” The transmitter is specific to a certain FM frequency. The bracelet “transmits” a signal every one second over that frequency 24 hours a day. The client wears this bracelet at all times and no other action is taken or required.
If the client wanders away, the APD Project Lifesaver team is mobilized with what is referred to as the “receiver.” The receiver can be input with the specific frequency of the client. A search begins near the last location of the client. The receiver searches for that signal the transmitter is putting out every second. The team then focuses on that signal which can and will pinpoint the exact location of the person.
Each bracelet costs $350, which is only the cost of the bracelet transmitter. There are no monitoring fees or any other similar fees.
There are currently seven Allentown residents wearing bracelets. Five are children with Autism and two are adults with Alzheimer’s.
Parents or guardians in Allentown interested in obtaining a tracking bracelet can contact Allentown Police Captain William Reinik, Project Lifesaver Coordinator for APD at 610-437-7713 or Martha Lieberman at 610-966-8511. Ms. Lieberman contacts all the families and discusses the program and obtains necessary information to make sure the program is right for them. Families later meet with APD to go over expectations.