Police lieutenant details use of Project Lifesaver
Before the start of the June 10 regular meeting, Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners watched a demonstration of a new electronic device that is available to help families who have a family member who wanders because of a medical condition.
Township police Lt. Greg Bealer demonstrated Project Lifesaver’s personal locator system, a radio frequency-based tracking system, at the meeting. He said the system was designed to help locate people who might wander and get lost because of conditions such as Alzheimer’s and autism.
Bealer said he was one of two township officers trained as instructors in the system.
He said with the system, the person who is prone to wandering wears a radio transmitter bracelet. If he or she wanders away, a police officer could use a tracking device to locate the missing person.
Bealer showed the antenna that attaches to a vehicle and the tracker that beeps and gets louder as it gets closer to the bracelet. He said the device has a range of 1 to 1.5 miles but can be affected by weather and obstructions.
According to Project Lifesaver, the system has rescued more than 3,500 people since 2009. However, Bealer cautioned, the system is not a 24-hour live tracking like GPS.
“We would only track when notified,” he said. “It is dependent on the family calling immediately when someone wanders away.”
He said he is a “convert” to the system and notes it allows police to find someone in a multi-story building, unlike GPS.
Bealer said caregivers can call police and request the system, of which 10 are available. There is no cost to the family, and it is limited to people with a medical condition that causes wandering.
He said police also will maintain the unit and go to the home every 60 days to replace batteries.
“We wanted to do something for residents,” board President Dennis Hower said. “This is a great technology that could save lives.”
Another meeting on Project Lifesaver is set for 7 p.m. July 2 in the public meeting room of the Whitehall Township Municipal Building, 3219 MacArthur Road.
During the regular meeting that followed the Project Lifesaver presentation, the board approved a resolution for a sidewalk maintenance agreement with the Department of Transportation for the Cementon-Northampton Bridge.
The board had considered not voting on the agreement after township Solicitor Sarah Murray, at a previous meeting, questioned a provision of the agreement that the township would be responsible for any future costs of Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to the bridge. The township had previously removed that provision from the resolution, and PennDOT had put it back in.
However, after discussing it with PennDOT, Whitehall Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. said Murray felt the language in the agreement was “adequate to protect our interest. She feels we’re not going to be stuck holding the bag down the road.”
Township Solicitor Jason Ulrich said he felt “most improvements would be structural,” which would fall under PennDOT’s responsibility.
“They are not willing to change the agreement,” he said.
The board agreed it was best to move ahead with the agreement.
“If an upgrade needs to be done, it will be done for the safety of our residents,” Hower said. “If we have to do it, so be it.”
Northampton also approved the agreement. Northampton and the township share maintenance on the bridge, which connects the two municipalities.
Harakal reported the township is continuing to move forward with the sale of the former Lehigh Valley Dairy. In March, Harakal announced the township had an agreement of sale for the long-vacant 10-acre property at 1026 MacArthur Road that housed the former dairy.
At the time, he said because of the dilapidated condition of the 275,000-square-foot concrete building, which has sat vacant for 30 years, it would have to be demolished. He said the property, currently owned by LVD Realty Inc., of Allen Township, would be used for a combination of retail and office structures.
“We still see a September closing as a deadline,” Harakal said.