Corp America March 2017

CORP AMERICA / MARCH 2017 53 , Gene Saunders is CEO and Founder of not-for-profit organisation Project Lifesaver International. He talks to us about why he started the program. Dedicated to the Cause Project Lifesaver International is a 501(C)(3) non- profit organization that was the first to apply locating technology for the search and rescue of individuals with cognitive disorders such as Autism or Alzheimer’s disease. The rate of these disorders have steadily increased over the past 18 years since the conception of the program, therefore it is imperative that proper measures are followed to ensure that we are ‘bringing loved ones home.’ Project Lifesaver has more than 1600 agencies and the program is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and six provinces throughout Canada. Project Lifesaver has a 100 percent success rate, and has successfully completed to date (03/22/2017) approximately 3243 rescues, all of which occurred on average in less than 30 minutes. Participating public safety agencies gain more than just a locating program for their community and special needs families, the families gain peace of mind that their loved ones are protected and in the event of an emergency will be rescued and brought home safely. The necessity of this program was determined through the correlation between cognitive diseases and the act of wandering. Wandering is very common among those with Autism, Alzheimer’s or a related cognitive condition. The longer it takes to find someone who has wandered away from their caregiver, guardian, or home, the more likely the elopement episode will end in an unfavourable outcome. The techniques and technologies used during search and recovery operations, along with the services provided through the program help find the wanderer in a timely manner. Gene Saunders is CEO and founder of the organisation. It is his responsibility to keep the vision and spirit of the program alive and thriving in order to protect the lives of those the company serves. It is also Gene’s responsibility to ensure each member agency program is being run in accordance with the Project Lifesaver guidelines. Gene tells us more about the firm, its inception and the rationale behind it. “Project Lifesaver International was founded in 1999 as an effort to potentially save more lives,” he begins. “While working with the Chesapeake Police Department for many years, we were called in on a number of search and rescue missions for individuals with Alzheimer’s; unfortunately, many of the outcomes of those missions ended unfavourably. As a result, I couldn’t shake the thoughts of ‘There has to be a way to change our methods, so we find these individuals before it is too late! There just has to be another way to recover these individuals in a timely manner. How can we do this better?’ “At the time there was a significant amount of buzz about radio frequency technologies being used as locating devices, and it occurred to me that if it could be successful in those areas, it could possibly be the solution to changing our search and rescue methods for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or similar cognitive conditions. With that came the conception of the Project Lifesaver Program.” Following great success of the program in the Chesapeake area, the Project Lifesaver program became a hot commodity that many public safety agencies wanted to implement in their communities. The program also expanded its reach to include individuals with other cognitive conditions, such as autism. “With the expansion of the program, it was imperative to ensure proper resources were allocated to the program; so in 2001, I retired from the Chesapeake Police Department in order to run the program full-time,” adds Gene. “It was my role to ensure the new agencies implementing the program were given proper training on the search and rescue technologies and techniques the Project Lifesaver program uses in order to successfully locate the individuals enrolled when they go missing. To date, the Project Lifesaver program is continuing to expand with more than 1600 member agencies world-wide.” Despite his dedication to the cause, Gene has faced challenges throughout his career and he explains that the creation of this organisation was actually borne out of failure. “With my wide range of experience within the Chesapeake Police Department and my military background, I was in the industry to protect and serve. Being unable to locate the missing individuals in time or at all while I was Chief of Search and Rescue, meant I was not serving nor protecting those individuals; I was failing them, and that had to change. With that failure became the birth of Project Lifesaver International.” Gene has huge hopes and aspirations for the future of the organisation, with his primary goal being growth. “We will continue to implement new and better technologies within our program, so we are even better able to serve those enrolled. We will continue to promote our program in any way possible, so more communities and individuals are aware that the program is available to those in need. Hopefully, we will also be able to obtain additional funding, so we are able to offer this program to everyone in need of its services.” K Company: Project Lifesaver International Contact: Gene Saunders Address: 201 SW Port Saint Lucie Blvd. Suite 203, Port Saint Lucie, FL 34984 Email: [email protected] Telephone: +1 772 446 1271 Website: 1701CA44