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What is MedicAlert Connect Protect? Developed by MedicAlert in 2015, MedicAlert Connect Protect gives police officers 24-hour direct access to a MedicAlert subscriber’s recent photo and personal information including identity, physical descriptions, attributes, wandering history, behavior management strategies such as anxiety triggers and de-escalation techniques, as well as caregiver information. Officers called to an emergency involving a MedicAlert subscriber will also have access to vital information which may be necessary to save a life. When a person is found by police, this information allows them to identify and locate family members when every second counts.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has endorsed the MedicAlert Connect Protect program as a valuable tool to help the police respond to missing person cases and wandering incidents.

How do participants enroll and update their information? Participants can sign up online (medicalert.ca), by phone (1.866.696.0273) or by mail. If they wish to update their information they can do so online, by phone, or by mail. MedicAlert continuously provides touch points with subscribers to communicate the value of ensuring their information is updated.
Benefits to police: MedicAlert Connect Protect has been proven to help police conduct their search more efficiently, ensuring those who have gone missing are reunited with their loved ones sooner. Police forces using Connect Protect also have access to the entire MedicAlert database for emergency purposes. This means they are not limited by geographic location or jurisdiction. For example, if a MedicAlert subscriber residing in Toronto visits family in Vancouver, and happens to go missing, Vancouver Police have the capability of directly searching for and accessing her information through the MedicAlert Connect Protect service.
Benefits to community and people living with dementia: People living with dementia who are enrolled in the MedicAlert program in a community that uses Connect Protect will be assured that should they go missing, any community using the Connect Protect program will be able to find their information in the MedicAlert database—allowing for speedier search times for police.
Cost: To register it is $60. This includes the cost of the MedicAlert ID + the first year of MedicAlert service. After the first year, it is $5 per month for subscribers.
What is Project Lifesaver? Project Lifesaver International is a non-profit organization that bridges the technological gap for “at risk” populations and public safety agencies. They provide police, fire/rescue and other first responders with a comprehensive program including equipment and training to quickly locate and rescue “at risk” individuals with cognitive disorders who are at constant risk to the life-threatening behavior of wandering including those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Project Lifesaver provides equipment (including a Personal Location Unit for the participant), training, certification and support to law enforcement, public safety organizations and community groups throughout the country and nation.
Case Study: Wellington County – Guelph
If a member of the public is interested in Project Lifesaver in Wellington County they can contact any Wellington County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Operations Centre 1-888-310-1122. After contact with the OPP is made, the name is passed onto Guelph-Wellington Victim Services who make personal contact to determine suitability for the program.

If suitable, the participant is then connected to Wellington County OPP, Provincial Constable Heather Nellis. PC Nellis makes queries through the police computer to determine if there are any safety concerns because it is volunteers who go out to the homes to change the batteries of the Personal Location Unit (PLU). If approved, PC Nellis attends and puts a Personal Location Unit on the client and takes a photograph which is added to the police computer database, both locally and nationally. A file is kept with the client’s photo, information and PLU serial number.

Each month Victim Services changes the client’s PLU battery. Should a client move, they contact Wellington County OPP who will update the police computer records. The administrative process that comes with Lifesaver is a continual one. In the contract the caregiver accepts responsibility to check the battery in the transmitter daily with a small battery checker. This is signed on a daily log book. If there is no signal then Victim Services is notified and a new battery or even a new transmitter can be issued that same day.

With the family checking the transmitter daily the program is ensuring that it is working, and that it is also on the person who is at risk and has not been removed. Victim Services can also use the Lifesaver database which sends them notifications as to which batteries are to be changed.

Project Lifesaver states re-certification is to be every 2 years however the OPP completes re-certification annually. Wellington County OPP has approx. 14 trained Constable Search specialists positioned on each of the four platoons for maximum availability and awareness should they be required.

Challenges: The primary challenge is promoting the program to the public. For example, OPP is very strict on social media.

In the case of long-term care homes, an officer may have visited all facilities in the county, but changes in staff will result in a loss of knowledge about the program.

Unfortunately, until someone goes missing, care partners think it won’t happen to them. THE GOAL IS TO GIVE EACH NEW CLIENT AN ID FORM TO FILL OUT AND KEEP A COPY IN THEIR CAR AND AT HOME. For those who don’t have an ID form completed, you can download one here.

Cost: Approx. $6500-7000 USD for the startup kit from Project Lifesaver International which includes search equipment and multiple transmitters.

Package will vary depending on equipment ordered. The administering agency may want to include their startup costs in the budget for the program. Any agency administering Project Lifesaver needs to do so in partnership with their local police department as police are responsible to complete the search should a Project Lifesaver participant go missing.

The cost is $400 for the transmitter and $10 for battery changes every 60 days. The transmitter can be tracked up to 1.6km.

What is the Vulnerable Persons’ Registry (VPR)? The Vulnerable Person Registry allows an improved police response to vulnerable people who may require emergency assistance due to their condition. It speeds up locating and assisting vulnerable residents or frequent visitors to the region by making essential personal information readily available to responding officers.
Example of use:

York Regional Police (YRP)

How do participants enroll and update information?

At York Regional Police, participants enroll on their online database that can be accessed through their website. If participants want to update information or find an error, there is a phone number they can call to make changes.

Participants who are renewing their application can do so online as well by entering their flag number and completing the application.

How does YPR operate and maintain the Registry?

Chantal Bennett, Social Worker at York Regional Police and member of the Rapid Response Working Group coordinates and maintains the VPR by entering VPR flags into Versadex.

Benefits: Our definition of vulnerable is wide enough and inclusive enough to go beyond a person’s age to include individuals who are living with a cognitive, physical, and intellectual or developmental disability or other condition which may place them at an increased risk of misadventure. As a result, YPR receives a variety of participants enrolling.
Challenges: The ONLY challenge that York Regional Police currently has is promoting the program so more individuals are familiar with the program.
Cost: 100% FREE and voluntary.

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