Four U.P. counties receive funding for life-saving technology and training

Copper Country

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – A new life-saving tool is coming to four U.P. counties. Houghton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Charlie Klein took the idea to his superiors, received a grant from Portage Health Foundation, and starting on Tuesday, training will begin on this new project.

Project Lifesaver will run as a partnership between the Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Offices and Superior Search & Rescue. The initial training runs from October 12-14. Additional training for all members of the Sheriff’s Offices will be available later this fall.

Project Lifesaver is a non-profit organization that provides law enforcement, fire and rescue, and caregivers with a technology and training to find people with cognitive disorders, like Down Syndrome or Alzheimer’s who are prone to the life-threatening behavior of wandering.

The training includes how to use the equipment, search and rescue strategy, and education for understanding cognitive conditions to better work with people living with them.

“I saw a need in our community to protect our most vulnerable cognitively impaired people. We didn’t have a system in place to track this kind of event and make a good outcome,” said Detective Lieutenant Klein.

Det. Lt. Klein said he discovered discovered Project Lifesaver International on social media. He said it advertised a 100% rescue rate and an average response and rescue time of 30 minutes.

“Once I realized how much it was going to cost, and it was going to be a hurdle, I reached out to Michael Babcock at the Portage Health Foundation and asked him if it was something they’d be interested in. Mike loved the idea and encouraged me to fill out the grant application, which I did and ultimately filled out the grant paperwork and was awarded the funding from the portage health foundation that is funding all four Sheriff’s Departments to enroll in Project Lifesaver,” said Det. Lt. Klein.

The initial funding will cover the costs of the first 50 families to enroll. Families interested in receiving a RF Transmitter can call their local Sheriff’s Office or visit to fill out a form.

“They would wear a radio frequency transmitter. It’s about the size of a fitbit. They can be worn on either their ankle or wrist. The RF transmitter that they’ll wear will have an individualized frequency number assigned to that person. Each Sheriff’s department will have two receivers. When we get called to an incident, we’ll turn those receivers on in our car and we will drive to the scene. Then we will take the receivers out and we will start the search with the receivers, which will search for the individual frequency that the person’s wearing.”

If you are interested in supporting the program, you can donate online at or by mailing a check to Portage Health Foundation at 400 Quincy Street; Hancock, MI with a note that the donation is for Project Lifesaver.

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