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The West Fargo Police Department announced today the David Lemi Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide qualified residents of West Fargo access to Project Lifesaver. Project Lifesaver uses a small, wearable transmitter along with locating equipment and trained emergency responders to quickly locate individuals with cognitive conditions that lead to a propensity to wander, such as autism, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome and dementia. Project Lifesaver has a 100 percent success rate with more than 3,400 successful rescues across the country.
“When an individual goes missing, every minute counts,” said Heith Janke, West Fargo Police Department chief. “The average rescue time for a missing individual enrolled in Project Lifesaver is 30 minutes, which is 95 percent less than standard rescue operation. This program is a vital addition to our ability to protect and serve this vulnerable population.”
In addition to technology training, Project Lifesaver also provides first responders with a basic understanding of common cognitive conditions to give them a comprehensive strategy for conducting searches and the safe and comfortable return of an individual who has gone missing. Currently, 26 members of the West Fargo Police Department and four members of the West Fargo Fire Department have completed the Project Lifesaver training.
The scholarship fund not only provides funding for Project Lifesaver but also honors David Lemi, the 6-year-old autistic resident of West Fargo who tragically drown during the summer. After receiving a generous donation from the Corwin Automotive Group to benefit at-risk populations, the West Fargo Police Department decided to use the donation to launch the scholarship fund and Project Lifesaver in West Fargo.
“Typically, the financial burden to join the service is placed on the families of the enrolled individual,” said Janke. “With this donation, we are now able to completely cover the cost for the families. We can’t think of a better way to honor David than to offer this service in his memory.”
David’s parents, Joyce and Marcello Lemi, the West Fargo Fire Department, Red River Valley Asperger-Autism Network, Corwin Automotive Group and Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota and North Dakota also participated in the announcement.
For more information about the City of West Fargo’s Project Lifesaver program or the David Lemi Memorial Scholarship Fund visit http://westfargond.gov/841/Project-Lifesaver-Program.