Do you know anyone who might be in danger of leaving home unintentionally and having difficulty finding their way home? Are you ever concerned that a loved one might get out and become disoriented?
There are many families in Wawa with at least one member who would be in danger if they managed to get out of the home on their own. This could be due to a variety of cognitive impairments including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia or autism. People with cognitive impairments may leave a secure environment without the knowledge of their caregiver and have difficulty finding their way home. This can be particularly problematic in the winter where exposure could lead to dire consequences in a very short period of time. It is also a concern that often people with cognitive impairment won’t answer when called even if they hear someone calling them.
The Senior’s at Risk Committee working with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Alzheimer’s Society have been working to bring Project Lifesaver to Wawa. Requests for funds were made to a number of organizations including; The Wawa Fishing Derby, Brookfield Power, The Wawa Rotary Club, and Wesdome Gold Mines all of whom responded with very generous donations. In addition, donations made in memory of Lori Johnson were directed to Wawa’s Project Lifesaver initiative. This has given us the funds necessary to purchase the equipment and a number of ‘bracelets’.
So what exactly is this Project Lifesaver?
Project Lifesaver utilizes radio receivers to locate individuals who have been equipped with the transmitting bracelets. Each bracelet has its’ own frequency and is worn by the client at all times. Superior East Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police have been equipped with two (2) radio receivers. The first one is situated permanently in a cruiser and when activated will receive signals from the various ‘bracelets’ that are activated in our community. By inputting the client’s frequency they will use the first receiver to locate the general area in which the client is located. This multi-directional receiver has a range of approximately ¼ mile. Once they are within this range they will activate the directional receiver to pinpoint the direction from which the signals are coming and ultimately this will lead the searchers to the client. As the receiver gets closer the signals get stronger. If they begin to move away from the client the signals get weaker. The signals can be picked up even through building walls. Should a client enter someone else’s home or apartment the officer’s will still be able to locate them.
Officers in Wawa were trained in the use of the equipment in the spring and fall and they were able to locate a bracelet (one that was not attached to a person) within ten minutes of beginning to search for it.
You may wonder how to get one of these bracelets and how to register for the program or how to get more information. On Friday, November 16, 2018, a display will be set-up at the Michipicoten Memorial Community Centre in the front lobby. Representatives from the OPP, the Wawa Alzheimer’s Society and the Senior’s at Risk Committee and perhaps a few of the sponsors will be on hand to provide you with information and to give a demonstration of how the system works. If you are interested you can leave your name and you will be contacted for registration the following week. In the meantime, if you want more information you can contact Christy Reid at the Alzheimer’s Society at (705) 856-0000.
You may also be interested in knowing how much it would cost to purchase a bracelet. The cost of each bracelet is $ 300.00. Additionally, every two months the batteries must be changed at a cost of $ 20.00. The changing of the batteries must be done by the Alzheimer’s Society staff. We ask that if you are able to pay for the bracelet and batteries that you do so. We have committed to subsidizing the bracelets and/or batteries for those who do not have the financial ability to purchase them. This will require fundraising on our part, so we ask that only those who are truly unable to buy their bracelets to request the subsidy.
Please drop by the Community Centre the evening of November 16thto get more information about this truly lifesaving addition to the Ontario Provincial Police’s equipment.