HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Following a string of missing person incidents this year, four U.P. counties are bringing a new program called Project Lifesaver to the area. Superior Search and Rescue, alongside sheriff departments in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties, applied for funding for the program through Portage Health Foundation.

Superior Search and Rescue held a training program Thursday to familiarize its volunteer team with the new technology. Designed for individuals with cognitive impairments, the project uses tracking devices to help search and rescue teams locate missing people in a more efficient manner.

“Wherever you point that receiver, where you get the strongest signal from, that’s where the transmitter is,” said Patrick Diedrich, Training Instructor for Superior Search and Rescue. “So whoever is wearing it is going to be in the direction of the strongest signal.”

The rescue team says the technology cuts the searching process from an hours-long process to a matter of minutes.

“Project Lifesaver has an average search time of thirty minutes,” said Darian Reed, President of Superior Search and Rescue. “And since the program’s inception they’ve found every single individual.”

With training underway, officials say getting eligible individuals in these counties into the program can be crucial in avoiding potential tragedies.

“If you’re in the woods and you’re not a trail, or even on a trail, it’s so easy to get disoriented or confused,” Diedrich said. “If you add in some cognitive decline in with that it’s just a recipe for disaster. Having a device where you can just point it and know that’s where that transmitter is and just go straight to it, it almost works too good.”

For more information on Project Lifesaver, check out Portage Health Foundation’s website.