A parent's persistence results in a solution for finding children and older people who wander away from home.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 27, 2017



The notices come in regularly – a person is missing – the police send out a media briefing. Usually the person is found – sometimes it takes a couple of days.

In 2015 the Halton Regional Police had 15,000 calls for what they refer to as people who wander. In 2016 that number rose to 40,000

Lifesaver - chief and technician

Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner holding one of the wrist bands while a technicians holds the aerial that will pick up a signal from the wrist band. The service – called Project Lifesaver was launched in Halton yesterday.

One of the people who wandered away from hone was  Helen Robertson,a 79 year-old Alzheimer’s patient  – she was never found. Losing someone is terrible for the family, a difficult job for the police and takes its toll on the community.

Kelly Oliveira, the mother of a nine year old autistic child had two close encounters when the boy who is audible deficient went missing. When I could not find my child “my heart stopped” she said as she described her search to find a better way to locate people who go missing.

Oliveira said her house has locks on all the doors, on all the windows – “we do everything we are supposed to do – 0ne day with a lot of guests at the house – the front door was left unlocked and that terrible, terrible fear took over – where was my son. We had people running up and down the street – some calling his name – but he doesn’t hear. I found him about ten minutes later near the water’s edge getting ready to walk in the water. He has this strange fascination with water.”

Oliveira didn’t want that experience again – she went looking for a solution and when she found it she dogged every police source she could get to take her calls and was as determined with the politicians.

Oakville Mayo Rob Burton explained to the audience that the Police Services Board moved with amazing speed. “We got the idea in August of 2016; approved it in principle in October of that year and have launched it today” he said.

Shows that the politicians can move quickly when they have a clear direction and are motivated.

Oliveira believed there had to be some way to track where her child was and began to research what was available in the way of technology.

Lifesaver - wrist band

The Project Lifesaver wrist band – it can be placed on an ankle.

A lot of people think GPS is the solution – that technology won’t work inside a building.

Oliveira found Project Life Saver, a proactive life protection program for individuals living with cognitive disorders. The program enhances the probability of the individual’s rescue and makes it possible to reduce the search effort from days and hours to minutes. This program combines radio technology with a coordinated police response to assist in locating wandering and disorientated loved ones.

People who subscribe to the service are given a personalized wristband that emits a tracking signal. The wristband is a one ounce, battery-operated wrist transmitter emitting an FM radio frequency based signal that emits a signal every second, 24 hours a day. It has been proven that these transmitters are able to track through obstacles, such as concrete walls and heavy forest.

When the police are called they respond and use an odd looking device that is an aerial – the kind of thing we used to put on the roof to pick up a TV signal.

It can be hand held by a police officer who walks through an area. It can be mounted on the roof of a police cruiser or attached to a small drone and flown over an area. The device can pick up a signal from the wrist band transmitter within a 2 km radius.

Lifesaver - Belleville - tracking device

The OPP in Belleville use the Lifesaver.

“We could be operating from Maple View Mall and locate someone in a crowd at Spencer Smith Park” explained police Chief Stephen Tanner during the launch of the program.

The program is not cheap – there is an initial one time cost of $400 plus an annual fee of $60. Police meet with the family of the person who is going to wear the bracelet and ensure that everyone understands the service and what is involved.

An entry is created in a data base that includes a picture of the person who will be wearing the bracelet.

The police exchange the bracelet for a new one every six months

To help make the program more accessible, financial assistance will be available for eligible low income participants through Halton Region’s Employment and Social Services department.

For more information, or to register for Project Lifesaver Halton, contact: Halton Regional Police, Victim Services Unit – 905-825-4810 or by email at – projectlifesaver@haltonpolice.ca There is additional information on the police web site – www.haltonpolice.ca/projectlifesaver


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