Saskatoon Search and Rescue launches Project Lifesaver
Saskatoon Search and Rescue (SSAR) along with the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) have officially launched Project Lifesaver; a program to help find vulnerable missing persons suffering from cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
“When they go missing, it’s going to reduce the hours needed to locate them,” SSAR search manager Kent Orosz said. “Those hours may be critical and make the difference between finding somebody alive or in not such good condition.”
People who enroll in the program will receive a radio-transmitting bracelet free of charge. The bracelets cost US$375, not including upkeep and maintenance.
“Because of the donations and support from the community, we’re able to provide this service at no charge to our clients,” Orosz said.
Donations came from the public, Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation, SaskTel and the SaskTel TelCare program as well as supports from SPS and the Saskatoon Police Foundation.
The bracelets are durable, waterproof and can give SSAR along with police a better chance at locating the missing person more efficiently.
“We would deploy our receivers that could directionally locate those bracelets,” Orosz said.
According to SSAR, volunteers have been trained using the bracelets and once a month will do a home visit to inspect the bracelet and replace the batteries.
Receivers will be vehicle mounted while others will be hand-held.
SSAR says three quarters of the calls they received over the past four years have been for people suffering cognitive disorders who have gone missing, a number that continues to rise.
“It is growing every year,” SPS Supt. Brian Shalovelo said. “I do know this is an important project and I do know that this fits into a larger social problem of increased dementia and cognitive disabilities.”
Despite that, the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan is encouraged by the new program.
“It’s certainly nice to have one more tool in the tool kit,” Laura Steeves-Green, First Link coordinator with the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan, said. “For the families and the people with dementia who qualify for this program, I think the peace of mind is very important to them and I think it’s going to be able to offer that.”
There are only 20 bracelets available. SSAR isn’t ruling out expanding the project, pending donations.
“All it takes is more donations to be able to purchase more bracelets,” Orosz said.
Anyone interested is asked to reach out to SSAR. Certain criteria must be met, and a doctor’s note is also required.
SSAR is made up of a team of volunteers that help Saskatoon police and other organizations to find and rescue missing people.
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