As colder weather sets in, the mother of a child with autism is reaching out to help others who care for vulnerable Islanders.

Tammy McQuaid spearheads Project Lifesaver, which provides electronic bracelets to help locate lost people — especially those with autism, dementia or Alzheimer's disease, who are prone to wander.

"A lot of them sometimes don't respond to their name," she said.

tammy mcquaid

Tammy McQuaid established Project Lifesaver on P.E.I. 5 years ago. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"They're at risk for wandering and they don't have the survival skills. So with the cold weather coming we really want to bring the awareness out there that there is an organization out there that can help."

'Huge peace of mind'

McQuaid's daughter Sophia,12, was one of the first Islanders to don a Project Lifesaver bracelet when McQuaid established the program on P.E.I. five years ago.

The waterproof device is about the size of a wrist watch. In the event that the person wearing it goes missing, a call to 911 puts first responders into action. They use a radio receiver to locate the bracelet — and the person wearing it.

"It's a huge peace of mind to know if she's wearing this and she goes missing that our team will find her and will find her in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours, or possibly days," McQuaid said.

Thousands served globally

The non-profit charity provides bracelets to thousands of people in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. Currently, eight Islanders are wearing Project Lifesaver bracelets. 

Project Lifesaver bracelet

The waterproof bracelet emits radio signals to help first responders find the person wearing it. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The $300 fee provides the electronic bracelet and on-going maintenance, including monthly batteries changes. The group waives fees for those who can't afford to pay.

McQuaid plans to reach out to schools, by word of mouth and on social media in coming weeks.

"I think there's probably hundreds of people that could benefit from this," McQuaid said.