Project Lifesaver looks to fall launch
Project Lifesaver could be up and running in North Bay by the fall.
The joint effort between the civilian emergency rescue service BAYSAR and the North Bay Police Service (NBPS) has raised more than $14,270 so far.
It aims to raise another $5,000 to complete the purchase of startup equipment.
The funds came through donations and grants from the Rotary Club of North Bay-Nipissing, Retired Teachers of Ontario, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Association, and North Bay and Area Community Foundation.
“We’re in the end stage of fundraising,” Project Lifesaver assistant administrator Jodie Lindsay said Monday.
Project Lifesaver is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 in the United States. It has since been adopted by many police services in Canada, including in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
The project involves fitting people prone to wander — including people on the autism spectrum and those with Alzheimer’s disease — with tracking devices that will enable them to be found quickly.
Caregivers can enrol their loved ones in the program and provide information about them — in this case to BAYSAR — which is then shared with police should they go missing.
Those enrolled will be fitted with a wristwatch-sized transmitter that can be worn on either the wrist or ankle. Each transmitter has its own frequency and can transmit up to a distance of five kilometres.
If the person wanders away, the family can call 911, where operators will pass on the pertinent information — including the frequency of the transmitter — to trained searchers.
BAYSAR will be the Project Lifesaver lead agency for the area, with the NBPS and OPP responsible for the initial emergency response when a client is reported missing. BAYSAR would then become the supporting agency during an emergency response.
The initial purchase of 16 transmitters will support clients with the Alzheimer Association (of Canada? Ontario), while another 10 will be purchased for clients at One Kids Place when the fundraising campaign wraps up.
The COVID-19 pandemic, Lindsay says, did not affect the rollout of the program.
“The majority of the program was in the works prior to COVID,” she said.
Although according to BAYSAR president Stan French, “We have to wait for COVID-19 restrictions” to be lifted before training can begin.
French approached the police services board in December seeking support for Project Lifesaver.
He said he hopes the fundraising target can be reached by the end of June to purchase everything needed for the program.
According to the Project Lifesaver website, the service has successfully rescued 3,676 people.
“This has been quite successful where it has been called out,” Lindsay says, with the average search time about 30 minutes.
“It has definitely been successful.”