Project Lifesaver helps bring wandering people home

Lynn Curwin
Published on June 15, 2016
Doug McNutt, local Project Lifesaver coordinator, shows 10-year-old Max Sheppard, a client of the system, one of the receivers that can help locate him if he is lost.
Lynn Curwin/Truro Daily News

TRURO – Megan Sheppard is putting her faith in a small device on her son’s ankle to bring him home if he ever goes lost.

Ten-year-old Max is one of only three people in the area equipped with a Project Lifesaver transmitter.

The system, run locally through Colchester Ground Search and Rescue, uses signals from battery-operated transmitters to find those diagnosed with autism, Down’s syndrome, dementia and other conditions become lost.

“There are too many stories about kids going missing when it took too long to find them,” says Sheppard. “Max has been wearing a locater since he was four years old.”

After Max was diagnosed with autism she joined a support team in the Annapolis Valley, where they lived at the time and they were involved with bringing Project Lifesaver to that area.

“Max was the first in the area to get this on and we did a couple of searches to test it,” she said. “They let us go for 45 minutes and then tried to find us. We hid in a culvert in a ditch and it was hard to believe how quickly they found us. It only took about 12 minutes.”

Doug McNutt, coordinator for Project Lifesaver in this area is a strong proponent of the program.

“Anyone who has gone missing while using this system has been found,” he said. “It’s a fantastic system. If you have a loved one who is a flight risk this is right for you.”

The medical grade bracelet can only be removed by cutting and can be worn while bathing or at play, without fear of damage.

Sheppard said although she has never had to use it for an emergency, she knows people who have. One family called 911 three times during the first year their adult daughter was wearing a transmitter, and she was always located promptly.

“This alleviates stress for us,” said Sheppard. “I probably wouldn’t have gone on any trips without this because I’d worry about him wandering.”

The system has been set up throughout North America and Australia; parts of Europe are now looking into it.

“I think there is a lot of apprehension because people think it requires a lot of time and energy, but it only requires about 10 minutes a month to check the battery. There’s so little involved for such a benefit,” said Sheppard.

Project Lifesaver volunteers visit each client to check and clean the transmitter once a month.

Although more widely used in other areas of Nova Scotia, there are currently only three in Colchester County using Project Lifesaver. There is a small cost for the equipment but Sheppard feels it’s worth every dollar.

More information can be obtained on the Colchester Ground Search and Rescue website at , the Project Lifesaver website at or by calling McNutt at 902-897-7542.

Demonstration on June 26

Colchester Ground Search and Rescue will be holding a demonstration of Project Lifesaver, and providing information on the organization, at Victoria Park on Sunday, June 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The group currently has about 30 members and would like to have more.