Project Lifesaver comes to West Fargo in honor of David Lemi

Oct 30, 2018

The West Fargo Police Department has established a scholarship fund to provide local residents with access to a program called Project Lifesaver.

The scholarship is named for six year old David Lemi, a little boy who wandered from  his home last summer and drowned in his neighborhood's retention pond. David was autistic, and West Fargo Police Chief Heith Janke says his passing highlighted the need to offer more services to protect vulnerable members of the community like him. Project Lifesaver is also currently available in Mandan and Grafton in North Dakota. The West Fargo program is funded by a donation from Corwin Automotive Group, and will cover qualified residents' start up and maintenance costs to join. Janke says the West Fargo Police Department and other first responders are proud to offer Project Lifesaver in David's memory.

West Fargo Police Chief Heith Janke; Joyce and Marcello Lemi, David's parents
Credit D. Webster

"This service is geared toward some of the most vulnerable population in our community who are prone to wandering due to autism, Alzheimer's, Downs syndrome, dementia, and other cognitive conditions. Project Lifesaver uses a small, wearable transmitter and pairs it with trained emergency responders using locating technology so the individual can be safely located in a matter of minutes. Project Lifesaver training also provides our first responders with a basic understanding of common cognitive conditions, giving them a comprehensive tool kit for conducting searches and the safe and comfortable return of an individual who's gone missing."

Janke says Project Lifesaver has a 100 percent success rate with more than 3,400 successful recoveries across the country. 26 members of the West Fargo Police Department and four members of the West Fargo Fire Department are already trained to use Project Lifesaver.