Somerset County News

Somerset County Sheriff's Rescue Drone Enhances Project Lifesaver Capabilities

The Somerset County Sheriff Office demonstrated a rescue drone Wednesday at the Somerset County Park Commission's Flying Field in Bridgewater. Credits: Courtesy Somerset County Sheriff Office
Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano, left, and Project Lifesaver CEO & Founder Gene Saunders discuss the performance of the rescue drone during Wednesday's demonstration. Credits: Courtesy Somerset County Sheriff Office
Lt. Mark Szczecina of the Somerset County Sheriff Department prepares the drone for flight. Credits: Courtesy Somerset County Sheriff Office

BRIDGEWATER - The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office demonstrated a rescue drone Tuesday at the Somerset County Park Commission headquarters flying field on Milltown Road.

“The Project Lifesaver International Indago Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System drone will be an important adjunct to the Project Lifesaver program in Somerset County,” said Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano. “The current program provides a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal to vulnerable Somerset County adults and children.”

The PLI Indago UAV System is a military-grade, quadrotor UAV designed specifically for the search and rescue of special-needs populations with cognitive disorders who are prone to the life-threatening behavior of wandering, including those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism and Down syndrome.

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The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office began Project Lifesaver in 2004. New Jersey became the first state in the country to have every Sheriff’s Office equipped and trained with Project Lifesaver in 2007. This enables Sheriff’s offices across the state to assist other Project Lifesaver electronic search specialists in locating residents.   

“We have had 12 search-and-rescue missions to date,” Provenzano said. “The Indago UAV will allow us to increase our capabilities in locating a client who has wandered. This new asset will give us the ability to search even more efficiently over a broader area and will increase the probability of a successful recovery,” he said.  “We currently have 40 clients on the program - 23 children who have autism or Down syndrome and 17 adults who have dementia.”

The purchase was funded from the Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Association forfeiture account consisting of federal monies seized from cooperative investigations with members of the Sheriff’s Office.

“The Somerset County NJ Sheriff’s Office is the first public safety agency in the country to adopt the PLI Indago UAV System,” said Project Lifesaver International CEO and founder Gene Saunders. “This type of innovative thinking and planning shows the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office’s commitment to the special-needs community and their dedication to protecting all in Somerset County.”

“This is a win-win for the Sheriff’s Office and the residents of Somerset County for our agency to be able to assist the special-needs community with a tool of this significance,” Provenzano said. “The UAV system has greatly impacted search and rescue efforts in other parts of the country. We fully anticipate having the same positive results in our county during times of crisis when families need our services the most.”

Project Lifesaver is a program coordinated through the Somerset County Office on Aging & Disability Services and supported by the county Board of Chosen Freeholders. Families with loved ones at risk of wandering due to cognitive and learning disabilities can contact the OOA&DS for an assessment that determines program eligibility, assists families in understanding their loved one’s condition, and provides information on programs and services for which they may be eligible.

Upon acceptance into the program, clients wear a personalized bracelet that emits a signal that aids the Sheriff’s Office in locating the individual in an expeditious manner, should the need arise. 

“Project LifeSaver provides extra support to caregivers and families in order to keep their loved one in the community,” said OOA&DS Executive Director Joanne Fetzko.  “The hope is that the use of the UAV system will instill greater confidence in families, as it will improve the team’s ability to help save lives and fulfill the program’s mission of bringing loved ones home safely.

"Not only will the use of this equipment reduce search time and increase public safety, but it will do so without risking the safety of the rescue team and first responders, which is undeniably an invaluable benefit to the community,” she added.


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North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung

Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per ...

Local Travel Ideas for St. Patrick’s Day - Calm Family Events to Drinking Shots from...Nevermind

March 17, 2018

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March 17 Events

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Just keep these ideas and links fresh in mind for future travels.  You may even want to bookmark the page for future reference.

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The weather continues to play havoc on local air travel.  Newark is reporting average delays of 1 hour 41 minutes and LaGuardia is experiencing 59 minute delays.

Most Airlines now offer APP, text, or email updates to flight delays.  Make sure to sign up for them.  That will be your fastest way to get notifications. Also, make sure to ...

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Travels Spotlight - 25th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Continues Through May 28

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Holland Tunnel:

One westbound lane in the tunnel will be closed during overnight hours from Sunday, March 11, through Thursday, March 15, from 11:59 p.m. each night through 5:30 a.m. the following ...

St. Patrick’s Day Sobriety Check in Belmar/Neptune Area on Tap by State Police

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The state police made the announcement on its Facebook page, alerting motorists that state troopers will be pulling over vehicles at this undisclosed location and time  “looking for signs of ...


South Plainfield - Joseph G. Zekas, 90, passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at The Willows at ...
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Upcoming Events


Wed, March 21, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy's 4th Annual Spring Splendor ...


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, March 30, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Fri, April 6, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve


Sat, April 14, 7:00 PM


Support Watchung Hills Project Graduation: SIP ...

Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Academy 5K and Family Fun Walk

Health & Wellness

Tue, June 12, 7:00 PM

FairBridge Hotel and Conference Center, Somerset

SPHS Class of 1968 50the Reunion


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March 10, 2018

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It's Official: Snow Day in North Plainfield, Raritan Valley

WARREN, NJ - North Plainfield Schools and Raritan Valley Community College have all made the call to cancel school and all after school activities on Wednesday, Mar. 7.

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March 20, 2018

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Suspended HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...