The volunteer group helped the Saskatoon Police Service 29 times, the RCMP four times and the Prince Albert Police once in the past year, according to statistics supplied by the group’s communications director Shelley Ballard-McKinlay.
Seventeen of the searches with the Saskatoon police were for Project Lifesaver clients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and 12 were for others with autism, those who were suicidal, despondent, or very young children who were lost.
“We have 43 clients now who wear a radio frequency transmitter bracelet on their wrist and if they go missing their caregivers’ phone police and then we’re activated right away,” Ballard-McKinlay said.
The SSAR is the only volunteer organization part of the city’s Emergency Measures Organization. It assists other agencies when requested or when it receives a Project Lifesaver alert.
The group is always on duty and Ballard-Mckinlay, a retired police officer, said members joke that most calls come between 2 and 3 a.m.
She said the reward for evenings and weekends spent training comes when they locate the missing person.
“My own father is part of the Project Lifesaver program and my team has had to go and find him a couple of times. It’s just amazing knowing that there’s this team out there to help,” she said.
Ballard-McKinley said the group will get a new truck in early 2020, which will make them even more responsive.
She urges people to tell others where they’re going and when they expect to be back to stay safe.
The previous call record was 28 in 2018.