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Dufferin OPP launch search and rescue tool ‘Project Lifesaver’ at open house

November 23, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson

Dufferin OPP, in cooperation with the Lions Club of Orangeville and Caledon Meals on Wheels (CMOW), has officially launched Project Lifesaver.

An open house marking the program’s launch, with live demonstrations, was held at the Dufferin OPP Detachment in Orangeville on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The project is a system by which the OPP can quickly locate a lost person who has wandered off from their home or caregiver.

It consists of a radio bracelet worn on the wrist or the ankle and emits a signal that the police can track. Using up to three receivers, the OPP can quickly pinpoint someone’s location.

In the case of someone who has difficulty wearing the wristband, such as an autistic child, it can be placed on a favourite item, such as a backpack that they always have with them.

When discovered missing, the loved one or caregiver calls 911, alerting the OPP to the wristband’s unique tracking number. The OPP will then dispatch all of their missing persons tools to find the individual, including dogs, helicopters, and search grids, in addition to the Project Lifesaver radio signal.

The wristband is just one more tool in the search for a loved one.

Project Lifesaver is used in the USA and has been extremely effective within its intended 2 km radius. The unit is waterproof and practically impossible to be removed by the person wearing it.

The one-time cost for the wristband is $400, with a monthly $10 battery replacement fee.

By replacing the battery every month, the unit is guaranteed to work 24/7. Any part that breaks is replaced free of charge by CMOW.

If a person moves to a new location which offers Project Lifesaver, they would have to re-enroll with the new provider.

A photo of the Project Lifesaver user is taken to aid in their identification. Subsides are available to qualified applicants to help with the program’s cost.

Project Lifesaver is intended for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism or any developmental disability that may lead them to wander.

The OPP does not administer the program but facilitates the search for participants.

The program is expensive, so sponsors and donors are needed to implement it in any given area. In Dufferin, Caledon Meals on Wheels and the Orangeville Lions Club have stepped forward to support Project Lifesaver. The government does not fund any part of the program.

Registration takes about an hour and is a very detailed look at the user’s medical condition and history. Financial ability is also taken into consideration for subsidy qualification.

To date, three officers have been trained to use the Project Lifesaver’s system trackers, with more expected to be trained moving forward, according to Dufferin OPP Sgt. Teri-Ann Pencarinha.

She and Police Constable (PC) Andrew Fines attended the Open House along with Jay Sahdra from CMOW. A demonstration of the device saw PC Fines follow and locate Teri-Ann in short order within the detachment headquarters building. In testing Project Lifesaver, the OPP has found test subjects in Mono Cliffs Provincial Park and other wooded areas in Dufferin County.

Despite some limitations, Project Lifesaver is a valuable tool to help find those who may wander away from home or easily become disoriented due to cognitive difficulties.

Anyone who would like to register for Project Lifesaver can contact Caledon Meals on Wheels at (905) 857-7651 and see if they’re suitable for the program.


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