North Shore Search and Rescue seeks public’s help to purchase locator system for dementia clients

NORTH SHORE—Members of North Shore Search and Rescue (NSSR) have seen a need on Manitoulin and North Shore communities they are hoping to fill by providing specialized equipment to those who are prone to wandering, such as elderly people with Alzheimer’s or dementia or autistic children, but they need the public’s support.

Bill Noon, president of NSSR, explained that Project Lifesaver International is a well-known program across the United States and is spreading into Canada, including through search and rescue groups across Ontario. In the North, participating search and rescue organizations in Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay are embracing the program.

According to the Project Lifesaver website, “Citizens enrolled in Project Lifesaver wear a small personal transmitter around the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal. If an enrolled client goes missing, the caregiver notifies their local Project Lifesaver agency and a trained emergency team (such as NSSR) responds to the wanderer’s area. Most who wander are found within a few miles from home and search times have been reduced from hours and days to minutes. Recovery times for Project Lifesaver clients average 30 minutes—95 percent less time than standard operations.”

The onus is on the family to buy the transmitter (which comes in a bracelet form) at $350, while the NSSR is hoping to raise enough money to purchase the receivers.

NSSR serves the North Shore, Espanola and Manitoulin areas.

“If we get a call (about someone who’s wandered) we look up the frequency and we walk out and start travelling parallel to the signal until we pick up a signal,” Mr. Noon explained. “Whenever those signals cross, that’s where they are.”

Mr. Noon noted the excellent average time that it takes to locate a client, adding that if the NSSR gets a call for a lost Alzheimer’s patient using the current means at hand, the chances are not good at finding them in time.

“We don’t get any kind of funding for this, and the receivers are $5,000 each and we need at least two, but we’re hoping for six,” Mr. Noon said.

So far NSSR has contacted all of the Lions Clubs in the district and has received $9,000 in donations to date.

On top of this project, “we also have to raise enough for the team (NSSR),” Mr. Noon added, noting the voluntary road toll the group will be undertaking in Espanola during the Manitoulin gun hunting season. “We also help at event with first aid for donations.”

Those wishing to learn more about the program can visit www.projectlifesaver.org or to make a donation to the project, visit www.northshoresearchandrescue.ca and click on the PayPal link. E-transfers can also be sent to north.shore@nssr.ca, which is also the email to use for Manitoulin Islanders wishing to get involved with the organization.