By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

Project Lifesaver could help responders locate missing people


A new program to help emergency responders quickly locate missing people suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, or brain injuries was presented at January’s Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch meeting in the Concord K5 auditorium.

Project Lifesaver offers a new way for emergency responders to track down individuals who have wandered from their residence as a result of a mental condition or brain injury. Individuals enrolled in the program are required to wear a small transmitter which emits a tracking signal.

The transmitter is about the size of a wristwatch and can be easily removed any time.

If an individual wanders away, residents can call 911 and provide the operator with a unique frequency number that is sent to a team of trained emergency responders. The Project Lifesaver responders are equipped with receivers that emit audible signals that indicate the proximity of the missing person’s transmitter.

Zone 3 Sgt. Kristina Davis is one of the ten Project Lifesaver emergency responders in Allegheny County. According to Sgt. Davis, the program is available in 41 states, so it can also be used while on vacation. In the event a person wanders away while travelling, their unique radio frequency number is sent to the registered emergency responders in that specific area.

“We’ve had a lot of happy endings as opposed to tragic endings,” Sgt. Davis said.

While Project Lifesaver is an international project, it is sponsored locally by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office who is providing the service for free to residents of Allegheny County. Eligible participants receive the device and one-year’s worth of batteries at no charge.

Caregivers may enroll on behalf of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other brain injuries or conditions. All participants must be receiving supervised care twenty-four hours a day.

Individuals residing in group homes or who are licensed to operate motor vehicles are not eligible for the program.

Enroll an individual in the program by contacting the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office at 412-350-4401.

Following the presentation, Zone 3 Officer Christine Luffey discussed several criminal incidents that occurred in Carrick between December 6 and January 5.

According to Officer Luffey, a robbery and home invasion occurred on December 6 at 7 p.m. in the 2000 block of Brownsville Road. Three unknown males entered a basement apartment and demanded that the victims open a safe. The suspects left the home with money and prescription drugs. Police are investigating the incident.

A female was struck by a vehicle around 8:20 p.m. in the 600 block of Becks Run Road. When police arrived on the scene, they encountered a male who appeared intoxicated. The victim stated the man had pushed her onto the driveway following a verbal argument. The suspect was arrested.

The next incident was an aggravated assault on December 16 at 8:51 the 2400 block of Edgar Street. Police responded to a physical altercation that broke out in the middle of the street. The victim suffered facial injuries.

According to Officer Luffey, drug overdose incidents tend to increase around the holidays in both Carrick and in the city of Pittsburgh. She said that most individuals who overdosed around the holidays were able to be revived with Narcan.

“The holiday season is very bright for some and not so bright for others,” Officer Luffey said.

One of those incidents occurred on December 29 when a man overdosed while slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle and his foot on the gas pedal in the 200 block of Merritt Avenue. Medics were able to revive him at the scene. The suspect was taken to the hospital and charged.

Officer Luffey also said undercover detectives have been doing a lot of work in the area as a result of some of the tips and information that they have received.

“Our narcotics detectives from police headquarters have been in this area and they’ve been doing a very good job,” Officer Luffey said. “They’ve been following up on the tips, and they’ve been receiving good tips, good information. They’ve been able to make some pretty good arrests.”

One of those arrests occurred on December 7 when detectives received information and a phone number for an individual selling drugs. They arranged to meet the suspect on Merritt Avenue and arrested him at the scene.

In a similar incident, another arrest was made on January 3 when narcotics detectives received a tip and phone number for an individual selling a large quantity of heroin in Carrick. Detectives arranged to meet the suspect on Merritt Avenue and discovered three individuals and large quantities of drugs in a vehicle. All were arrested at the scene.

Police followed a vehicle after they observed erratic driving in the 2000 block of Brownsville Road on January 4. They pulled over the vehicle after the driver made an illegal U-turn. Two men were arrested after police discovered heroin in the vehicle.

This month’s report included a total of 71 criminal incidents in Carrick and 15 in Overbrook between December 5 and January 9. They included 28 incidents of criminal mischief, 11 incidents of theft from person, 10 simple assaults, and 5 drug overdoses.

Block watch organizer Carol Anthony said when the block watch first began there were seven pages of Carrick offenses in the monthly crime report. Last month’s crime report only had two pages.

The next Carrick / Overbrook Block Watch meeting is Monday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Concord K5 auditorium.


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