Victim Services Wellington/Project Lifesaver Program
As you have probably heard from the presentations Project Lifesaver started in the United States and when I was told about it in 2011, I could not understand why we did not have more of these programs across Ontario! I am still baffled by this today.
My name is Elizabeth Kent and I am the Executive Director of Victim Services Wellington. We have 3 full time staff and approximately 85 volunteers. We provide on scene assistance to victims of crime and tragic circumstance 24/7 365 days a year! We are dispatched to assist victims by emergency services.
Missing persons calls are one of the calls we respond too when called by emergency services. I have no problem saying I have attended to assist a family whose mother /grandmother was missing and I never want to do that again! It was awful, this person was missing 22 hours and it was not only hard on the family but on everyone involved. As time went on and the hours ticked by you knew the chances of finding this person alive was less and less. This mother /grandmother had dementia so we knew she would not find her own way especially after being gone so long. This call for me was many years ago but when I heard about Project Lifesaver I was brought right back to that living room and the many tears! Please note there was a successful conclusion she was found alive! However, the pain and anguish the family went thru was awful.
When I was approached about Project Lifesaver, I did not see how we could not want this service in our community especially with our aging population. Therefore, with the help of my Board, volunteers and the Police Services (Guelph and Ontario Provincial Police Wellington) we made it happen in late 2011.
Since receiving word that we were the recipients of 100 Women Who Care we have had four searches two in Wellington County and two in the City of Guelph. One of the searches the elderly man lives in the area by Eramosa Zehrs and was located out by Costco in 36 minutes from the time he was reported missing. Another search in Fergus was for an elderly person who left the retirement home in the morning and they did not realize she had not been back until 5:30. This program assisted the police in locating her in under 40 minutes. In total, we have had 16 searches and found people quickly.
I would like to thank everyone for being part of this group and supporting the agencies in Guelph and especially for supporting our program. You are helping to give caregivers/loved ones a peace of mind and that is invaluable! I look forward to being a member of this group.