New search and rescue volunteers trained for Project Lifesaver P.E.I.

·2 min read
The bracelets distributed by Project Lifesaver P.E.I. emit radio signals to help first responders find the missing person. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
The bracelets distributed by Project Lifesaver P.E.I. emit radio signals to help first responders find the missing person. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Project Lifesaver P.E.I. trained eight new volunteers on the weekend to help search for Islanders who might be more likely to wander off and go missing.

The international organization provides tracking bracelets to people who could be prone to wandering, such as people with autism, a developmental delay, dementia or Alzheimer's.

The P.E.I. chapter was founded in 2012, and there are now about 40 Islanders who wear the bracelets that include a special tracking device.

"If they go missing, we have what's called a receiver that will pick up their transmitting signal and tell us the direction that they're in, so it allows us to find them a lot quicker," said Gerald Arsenault, who is on the board of Project Lifesaver P.E.I.

Over the weekend, the group trained eight new volunteers to become Project Lifesaver technical specialists.

That involves explaining the equipment and how it works, said Arsenault.

"We also talk about the type of people we're looking for — like, the traits of people who have dementia, the traits of people who have autism," he said.

Including the eight people just trained, the group now has between 35 and 40 technical specialists, said Arsenault.

These specialists also visit the families of clients once a month to change the batteries in their tracking bracelets.

More peace of mind

Arsenault said the group is getting more and more requests for the bracelets, and families talk about the peace of mind it gives them.

"They feel they can do more with their family. They can go more places, they don't have to be so worried about … their loved one," he said.

The tracking bracelets cost $375 as a one-time up-front cost, but Arsenault said they try to make sure any family who wants one can get one.

"We'll look for sponsors for families if required … there's all sorts of different groups out there that would certainly support, you know, providing a bracelet for our clients," he said.

Precision tracking possible

Arsenault said the new volunteers trained on the weekend were impressed with the precision of the device inside the tracking bracelets.

"They thought that was amazing, that they could … be able to go out and find a device, like a small device, sitting up against the tree and find it inside 30 minutes," he said.

Arsenault said a normal search and rescue crew can take between nine and 24 hours to find a missing person.

"So to find a person within 35, 40 minutes … normally that's a much better outcome."

On P.E.I., no clients with the tracking bracelets have gone missing so far.

Arsenault said his goal is to build relationships with the clients he visits.

"I go to change the batteries and hope to God I never have to see them … in a state where their loved one's missing."

More from CBC P.E.I.