Project Lifesaver launching in Dufferin to help locate missing people who wander

June 29, 2023   ·   0 Comments

The program provides caregivers with peace of mind

By Sam Odrowski

A new program is launching in Dufferin County to help locate and save the lives of individuals prone to wandering.

Project Lifesaver, which has run in Caledon since 2019, provides a tracking device to help locate people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, or any other cognitive impairment that may put them at risk of wandering.

The Dufferin OPP can triangulate the tracking device’s signal if someone registered for Project Lifesaver goes missing. The tracking device is typically located on the body of the program’s participants, often through a necklace, bracelet or other means.

“There’s nothing scarier as a caregiver than to have a loved one go missing and not have any idea where they are,” said Caledon Meals on Wheels executive director Christine Sevigny.

Project Lifesaver, which operates in the U.S., Australia and Canada, helps to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate someone who wanders. Recovery times for Project Lifesaver participants average 30 minutes – 95 percent faster than standard operations without Project Lifesaver.

The program provides the OPP with another tool for search and rescue operations.

“The equipment helps them zero in on a [missing] person a lot faster than if they had just used the regular kind of procedures,” explained Sevigny.

She noted that this is a big help for those who care for people prone to wandering.

“The program provides peace of mind for caregivers,” said Sevigny. “If you’ve ever had someone in your family who’s prone to wondering, it’s very stressful. You can walk down the stairs and then they’re gone, no matter what other safeguards you put in place.”

Project Lifesaver has expanded into Dufferin County thanks to a donation from the Orangeville Lions Club. Caledon Meals on Wheels is taking care of the program’s administration with the Dufferin OPP.

“The proceeds of the Orangeville Lions TV Bingo on Rogers TV provides tens of thousands of dollars to our communities. The Club is pleased to grant Project Lifesaver $7,500 to purchase this critical equipment,” stated Lion Don Sinclair, President of the Orangeville Lions Club.

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.

The technology and system used for this initiative are provided by Project Lifesaver International (PLI) and has been used throughout Canada and the U.S. for many years. PLI was founded in 1999.  

Sevigny said the technology is easy to use.

Between nine and 12 people have been consistently registered in Caledon since it launched in partnership with Caledon OPP in 2019, and Sevigny hopes for similar uptake in Dufferin County.

“Project Lifesaver is a welcome addition to the detachment, and we look forward to utilizing this valuable tool in our community,” said Interim Detachment Commander, Insp. Dean Korn. “The ability to quickly locate a wandering loved one will save lives and provide peace of mind to affected families. A huge thank you to the Orangeville Lions Club and Caledon Meals on Wheels for making this program a reality,” 

Fortunately, no one in Caledon who’s been registered for the program has gone missing, but in the event they did, the search would be greatly assisted by Project Lifesaver’s person-tracking technology.

“There have been fatalities prior to Project Lifesaver [launching] in our areas, because of somebody who’s wandered or gone missing. So you just never know when that situation can happen, and when you’re going to actually need it.”

The program is expected to officially launch in July once Dufferin OPP officers have been trained.v

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