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 or call and leave a message at 705-475-9694.

For further information, visit BAYSAR AIR Search and Rescue’s website,

Doing this will help the “Eye in the Sky” find you

Doing this will help the “Eye in the Sky” find you

“If you’ll go out and spend $30,000 on your boat, but you’ll cheap out on your lifejackets, it makes no sense at all.”


As BAYSAR Search and Rescue President Stan French piloted his 1966 Cessna 172 along the banks of Four Mile Bay, banking around the peninsula in Trout Lake back toward Camp Island, he locked on to his target like an ace in a dogfight.

“There, you see?” he asked through our headsets. At an altitude of 500 feet, French had guided the aircraft to a vantage point where we could see directly down into a passing speedboat. From above, we could easily count the number of passengers on the boat, how many PFDs (Personal Flotation Device) were on hand, and most importantly, how many passengers were actually wearing them.

Although current laws do not make wearing your PFD mandatory while enjoying the area’s gorgeous lakes and rivers, common sense dictates that you should.

Besides the obvious benefit of buoyancy for those who cannot swim, those who have been injured, and those who have been knocked unconscious, a PFD also makes a capsized boater separated from their watercraft more visible from the air, aiding in any search and rescue.

“Finding someone in the water who needs help is not an easy task,” said French. “While BAYSAR prides itself in being able to get a crew in the air within an hour after being asked to assist in a search, it could be several hours before someone in danger is found. Strong swimmers may be able to survive in the water for several hours without the help of a PFD. But what people don’t realize is that a PFD is also highly visible from the air. Your chances of being found without one are very slim. Our message is simple. Wear your PFD!”

Let’s see you wear your PFD!” is a survey BAYSAR has conducted for the past four years. During the Civic Holiday weekend, BAYSAR will raise public awareness of the dangers of boating without a lifejacket to boaters in the North Bay area. BAYSAR will also be flying over the water to count how many boaters are wearing their PFDs. A report of the results will follow. BAYSAR’s goal is to make wearing your PFD as common a practice as putting on your seatbelt in a car.
As a prize to the first boater he saw wearing a PFD during a contest last summer, OPP Marine Unit Const. Marvin Miller awarded Carolyn DeLoyde a promotional flight in the BAYSAR floatplane.

Said DeLoyde “I am an active canoer and kayaker on our beautiful waterways here in North Bay. The important lesson that I’ve learned from being in the floatplane is that you can definitely see the lifejacket” from above.

From a separate situation in which she capsized her canoe in 60 feet of cold Trout Lake water, DeLoyde relayed that “The other thing I have learned is that there really is no time in an emergency situation to put on a lifejacket. Even though the requirement is that the lifejacket simply is on board the watercraft, I believe it is important that the lifejackets be worn all of the time.”

“From my personal experience, I am an advocate for wearing lifejackets. If you have ever been dumped in Trout Lake, even in the middle of July, the water is cold. Any further on in the season, tragedy” could ensue said DeLoyde.

As a mother, DeLoyde encourages other parents to lead by example and to make it a family rule that all members wear their PFDs. “In my situation, if I hadn’t been wearing my lifejacket, I would have had to put them on my children, as well as myself, there’s not enough time in an emergency.”
Const. Miller, to his dismay, says there is often talk of making the actual wearing of PFDs mandatory, but little action.

The PFDs are not cost-prohibitive, according to Miller. They range from $150 to $300. “It’s not like they are not affordable. If you’ll go out and spend $30,000 on your boat, but you’ll cheap out on your lifejackets, it makes no sense at all.”

“The auto-inflators can be manually inflated, or we (OPP) have the ones where if you go down three feet (in the water) they automatically inflate. They’ll bring your head up every time. They are phenomenal.”

This holiday weekend, like all others, the Marine Unit will be on patrol on area waterways. “Zero tolerance on lifejackets. If you are stopped and you are missing a lifejacket or one of the appropriate size, you will be charged,” said Miller.

“When we stop the vessel, we are also looking for all safety aspects, minimum requirements for that vessel. We are also checking for alcohol-related offences, we’re still finding enough of those. Drink on your dock, or stay home,” added Miller.

On the benefits of having the local search and rescue organization coordinating with police presence, Miller said “BAYSAR will minimize the time and effort to find somebody. On a big lake like Nipissing, it’s nice to have someone in the air, the “Eye in the Sky,” we call it to pick out that little boat on the water, that I can’t see from my boat and direct me towards it.”

Look up from your watercraft this Civic Holiday weekend, and give the pilots of BAYSAR a friendly wave as they fly over. If you run into an emergency on the water and are not wearing your PFD, it could be the last time you see them


Photo Credit: Aaron Mahoney

BAYSAR Search and Rescue, the North Bay Police service and the OPP held a joint event yesterday to bring awareness about wearing a life jacket/personal flotation device when out on the water this weekend.

The law states that for every person on boat, there must be the same number of PFD’s as well.

OPP Constable Marvin Miller doesn’t understand why people still go out without PFD’s when the cost of one is less than what you could potentially pay in a fine if you were flagged down on the water.

BAYSAR President Stan French believes personal flotation devices should be worn at all times because you never know when an emergency will present itself and you’ll be in the water.

BAYSAR would like to see wearing PFD’s on a boat become as common as wearing a seat belt in a car.

Baysar Search and Rescue helping out local police

lif ejacket

For the 4th year in a row BAYSAR Search and Rescue will have an added duty over the August long weekend.

President Stan French says they’ll be working with North Bay Police and OPP and count the number of people wearing life jackets or Personal Floatation Devices.

He says there has been improvement by 13 per cent.

He says the survey is conducted on Lake Nipissing, Trout Lake and Lake Nosbonsing as well.

He says the numbers go up to 25 per cent improvement when the waves do as people react to the conditions.

Still he says there’s room for improvement in getting people to put on a life jacket automatically. He says people still aren’t getting down to the routine of automatically putting their life jackets on.

BAYSAR also offers a flight to the first person OPP officers encounter while on patrol during the weekend who is wearing a PFD or life jacket.


Let’s see you wear your PFD!
1st and 2nd August 2015


Are you boating over the long weekend? Then, let’s see you wear your lifejackets! This is the message North Bay Police, North Bay Ontario Provincial Police and campaign organizers BAYSAR Search & Rescue are reinforcing over the Civic Holiday weekend. Now in its third year, the “Let’s see you wear your PFD!” awareness campaign will see BAYSAR flying over lakes in our region on Saturday and Sunday (August 1st and 2nd) to count how many boaters and passengers are wearing their personal floatation devices.

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Combining Passion with a Purpose

Stan French flies his Cessna 172 over North Bay and surrounding area during a BAYSAR training exercise. Photo by: Corporal Joseph Morin, Imagery Technician

Article by: Lieutenant Leah Pierce, Public Affairs

The Laurentian Escarpment that shoulders North Bay is a beautiful site in the fall. Bold colours entice travelers to the area to hike among the rushing waters, rocks and trees that make up Duchesnay Falls. For a Toronto woman Saturday, November 19th, 2011 turned out to be a day filled with anxiety when a simple walk in the woods lead to a frantic call for help to the police by a friend. This is where volunteers from BAYSAR, including pilot Captain Stan French, came to the rescue.

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