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Lost 'vulnerable' child rescued from the cold with help from Project Lifesaver

'Hypothermia can be a killer in a short time if you are wet, especially in freezing temperatures'
2020 11 06 Stan French BAYSAR
BAYSAR's Stan French shows off a Project Lifesaver transmitter. Photo: Stu Campaigne

A 'vulnerable' child, lost in a bush and swampy area of Callander over the Christmas holidays was saved, in part, by a remarkable device that directed rescuers to the child's location.

On December 26, the North Bay Police Service received a 911 call from a family member about a 'vulnerable' child who had gone missing. 

Fortunately, the child was enrolled in a program called Project Lifesaver thanks to a referral from One Kids Place and funding from Rotary in North Bay. The 911 call prompted a multi-agency deployment of resources with NBPS leading the search.

The area of the search was in a rural part of Callander surrounded by bush and some swamps that at the time, were not fully frozen.

"Hypothermia can be a killer in a short time if you are wet, especially in freezing temperatures," explains Stan French, President of  BAYSAR Air Search and Rescue.

Approximately nine minutes after the 911 call the first NBPS officers arrived on the scene as well as members of the Callander Fire & Emergency Services and an ambulance crew with Nipissing EMS.

Within the next few minutes an OPP officer arrived, the NBPS Emergency Response Team was called out, and an OPP K9 unit was dispatched.

"BAYSAR was requested to assist with the Project Lifesaver electronic search as NBPS Electronic Search Specialists with the Project Lifesaver equipment were en route," says French. "Even members of the Anishinabek Police Service responded in case they were needed. This truly was a multi-agency effort."

Shortly after arriving on the scene, NBPS electronic searchers picked up a signal from the child’s Project Lifesaver transmitter.

As police homed in on the signal, family members were searching known trails in the bush.

"The child’s grandmother was the first to hear a yell in response to her calling the child’s name," says French. "Police searchers were nearby thanks to their electronic search. The child was quickly assessed by EMS and transported to the hospital. Thanks to a rapid response by all concerned a potential tragedy was averted and the child was released from the hospital without major physical injuries."

The time from the 911 call to the child being transported to the hospital was exactly one hour.

"The time from the start of the Project Lifesaver electronic search until the child was found was just 19 minutes," says French. "Although the child was found by the grandmother, Project Lifesaver proved its worth. The child’s transmitter provided a sufficient signal for tracking even though it had been immersed in water when the child was in a swamp."

See: Project Lifesaver proves its value during mock rescue

And: Project lifesaver saves a local life

"Project Lifesaver is just one of many tools the police can use when searching for a missing person and BAYSAR members are proud that they can be part of that effort," added French.

“The North Bay Police Service has maintained a strong working relationship with BAYSAR and their group of dedicated volunteers," said NBPS Inspector Jeff Warner. "During an urgent search for a missing person, this partnership allows us to deploy additional people to the scene quickly, dramatically improving our chances for a successful outcome.”

If anyone has a family member who you think would benefit from Project Lifesaver a referral can come through the Alzheimer Society, One Kids Place, or email BAYSAR directly.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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