Project Lifesaver in use in West Nipissing, communities served by North Bay OPP detachment

Sudbury Star Staff Jul 10, 2021 

BAYSAR volunteer Tom Wilson uses the Project Lifesaver receiver to home in on a 'missing person' during an exercise Friday morning at the BAYSAR hangars on Airport Road.
PJ Wilson/The Nugget
BAYSAR volunteer Tom Wilson uses the Project Lifesaver receiver to home in on a ‘missing person’ during an exercise Friday morning at the BAYSAR hangars on Airport Road. PJ Wilson/The Nugget

The OPP’s Nipissing West and North Bay detachments, in conjunction with BAYSAR Air Search and Rescue of North Bay, have announced that Project Lifesaver is up and running in West Nipissing and North Bay OPP jurisdictions.

From Verner to Mattawa, from Marten River to Powassan and in all the other communities served by the North Bay and Nipissing West detachments, families of vulnerable individuals can now consider Project Lifesaver to help bring their loved ones home should they go missing.

BAYSAR and the North Bay Police Service launched Project Lifesaver in North Bay in November 2020. Thanks mostly to a donation from Rebuilt Resources,

BAYSAR was able to provide the equipment and training to expand the program to include the surrounding OPP detachments of Nipissing West and North Bay.

The system is for people of all ages who are at risk of becoming lost due to a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome or acquired brain injury.

Project Lifesaver clients wear a personalized, battery-operated transmitter on their wrist or ankle, held by a strap similar to a hospital patient ID. Batteries and straps are replaced by BAYSAR volunteers every 60 days. Caregivers are provided with a transmitter tester and are required to test the function of the transmitter daily. The transmitter emits a unique FM radio frequency pulse every second, weighs one ounce, is waterproof for hygiene or swimming, and is worn 24 hours a day. This is an important feature — the Project Lifesaver transmitter is constantly worn, because it’s impossible to predict when a vulnerable family member will go missing.

When caregivers call 911 to notify police that a Project Lifesaver-equipped person is missing, in addition to regular police resources, OPP officers trained as electronic search specialists respond to where the person was last seen and search the area with a mobile tracking system. Under the agreement with BAYSAR, the OPP can request the assistance of volunteers who have the same tracking equipment and are trained to the same electronic search standards. If BAYSAR is involved in the search, they have the ability to integrate into the OPP-led search effort. BAYSAR can supply extra electronic search teams on the ground and, until the OPP helicopter is able to assist, BAYSAR may be able to search from the air using a private, fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter.

The signal can be received up to around three kilometres away by ground teams, or in the air from about 8-10 km. Once a signal is obtained, the OPP officer in command of the search will be able to position electronic search teams to quickly help locate and rescue the missing person. The average search time for a missing Project Lifesaver client is just 30 minutes — 95 per cent less time than standard search operations.

Without Project Lifesaver, searches can involve multiple agencies, hundreds of officers, countless man hours and thousands of dollars. More importantly, because time is of the essence, every minute lost increases the risk of a tragic outcome.

Under the agreement with BAYSAR, the OPP will always be in charge of a search and will respond as usual by calling out all applicable resources. For example, the emergency response team, canine unit, helicopter and additional personnel may be utilized.

For information on enrolling someone in West Nipissing, North Bay, or in North Bay OPP jurisdiction, contact BAYSAR Air Search and Rescue in North Bay.
Email baysarnorthbay@gmail.com or call and leave a message at 705-475-9694.

For further information, visit BAYSAR AIR Search and Rescue’s website, www.baysar.net.

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