YSSR is a charitable, 100% volunteer-operated organization that works for the prevention and recovery of lost individuals. We are activated by local policing agencies and are available to respond 24/7/365. Made up of 88 members, we are one of the largest of the ten ground search and rescue teams in New Brunswick.
In 2020 we, like everyone else, dealt with the unprecendented challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic. We met these challenges head on and adapted, seeking out new ways to train our members, fundraise, and connect with our community.
Our day-to-day operations were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We moved from in person meetings, new members events, and training exercises to digital or socially-distanced equivalents (when regulations allowed). Most of our annual fundraising events were cancelled, requiring us to come up with new ways to raise the money we need to keep our lights on. Our work with Project Lifesaver International and AdventureSmart clients changed, as did our work during activations, so that we could continue to effectively serve while keeping our team members and our community safe.
In 2020 YSSR was activated 11 times, with 6 being in the YSSR zone and 5 being mutual aid to teams in other zones. These searches totaled to 1110 person hours: 541 in YSSR’s zone, and 569 in mutual aid. We had an average of 18 members per activation, with a high of 32 members.
Person Hours by Zone
Mutual Aid Zones
Person Hours by Jurisdiction Agency
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Fredericton Police Force
Saint John Police Force
Of course, even better than a successful search is a search that never need happen. We work to prevent at-risk individuals from going missing through Project Lifesaver International (PLI) initiatives and AdventureSmart programs.
Project Lifesaver International
Project Lifesaver International is an initiative that seeks to protect the most vulnerable members of our community: those at risk to wander due to cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Autism, brain injuries, and others. Transmitter bracelets, maintained by YSSR, are worn by PLI clients. If a PLI client goes missing, our team of specially-trained Electronic Search Specialists responds directly, greatly reducing the search area and duration, bringing the client home quickly and safely. Search times for these clients is normally less than 30 minutes, compared to the many hours or days using traditional search methods would require.
Electronic Search Specialists
With 8 new clients joining us throughout 2020, we ended the year with 20 active clients. Our team has grown to include 13 Electronic Search Specialists, specifically trained and equipped for Project Lifesaver searches. We also had 4 response kits, with our newest being established in the Grand Lake area – this was made possible by the fundraising efforts of our team members and generous donations from the Minto - Chipman Knights of Columbus; Chipman - Minto Lions Club; Minto Auto Supplies (NAPA); A1 Auto Chipman (NAPA); Chipman Volunteer Fire Fighters; Village of Minto; and Village of Chipman.
We are partnered with AdventureSmart to offer a variety of educational programs and presentations focused on giving people in Canada the tools they need to stay safe on their outdoor adventures. These programs include Hug-A-Tree, a program aimed at teaching elementary school aged children how to avoid becoming lost and what to do if they should become lost, as well as programs for adults focused on surviving outdoors, snow and snowmobiling safety, and paddle-driven water craft safety. AdventureSmart also includes the free Trip Plan app which allows users to easily create trip plans and send them to contacts so that if the user ends up in trouble, the contact knows when and where to send help.
Unfortunately, the nature of the pandemic meant that many of our usual AdventureSmart presentations were put on hold until it becomes safe to meet in person. Our AdventureSmart committee invested time and energy into evaluating online options and hope to be able to resume presentations in the coming months.
YSSR is comprised of volunteer members who dedicate their time, energy, and skills to making our community a better and safer place.
In 2020 we were fortunate to gain 16 new members, bringing our total number of members up to 88. With our usual bi-annual new members nights cancelled due to the pandemic, our Membership committee innovated and hosted our first open training event, inviting the public to come check out an outdoor map and compass training exercise to get to know our team, learn about our work, and become a member. We also streamlined our application process to make it easier than ever to join the team.
The hours totals for each category listed below are pulled from our formal hours log; our members also volunteer their time informally for some tasks, which aren't tracked. We are grateful for their many, many contributions.
Total Person Hours
* includes maintenance, Project Lifesaver, administrative tasks, meetings, public relations, AdventureSmart, and more
In 2020 we offered 65 training session amounting to a total of 1885 person hours. Our training committee worked hard to offer alternatives to our usual training sessions that would be within COVID-19 regulations. We were able to offer 31 socially-distanced, in-person, outdoor training sessions alongside 34 of virtual, online training sessions. Our membership committee also created new digital training resources that new members can participate in on their own schedule and at their own pace.
YSSR is a charitable organization and the support of our partners, donors, and community means that our team can remain ready save lives.
In an effort to better connect with our community we launched an ongoing social media campaign in April of 2020. We posted on a regular schedule to inform our followers of upcoming events, show off our wonderful members and donors, and share tips and tricks about how to enjoy the outdoors safely. In the past year, our Facebook following has grown to over 1700 people; your comments, likes, and shares help us tell the world who we are and what we do.
In September of 2020 we launched a new website, focused on having an easy-to-use digital space for people to find and reach out to us.
Though many of our usual fundraising events were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were still able to hold our annual pancake breakfast in February 2020. After the pandemic reached New Brunswick in March, our fundraising team innovated to come up with new avenues to generate the income which supports our training, equipment, and administrative needs.
In June we held our first bottle drive, which was such a huge success that we held another in September; your support at events like these makes all the difference to our team. We were also very grateful to be given the opportunity to BBQ at the Rusagonis ATV rally in October. Our members spent a collective 1158 hours participating in fundraising efforts in 2020.
We wouldn’t be able to do any of what we do without the generous contributions of individuals, businesses, and organizations in our community.
To Our Community
If you purchased merchandise from us, dropped off bottles to our bottle drives, or simply shared news about our fundraising events to your friends and family, you made it possible for us to outlast a year in which non-profits were hit particularly hard. With your support we are able to ensure we have the training, equipment, and administrative structure to fulfill our mission of bringing lost individuals home safely. Thank you for everything.
A special thank you to:
Home Depot Fredericton
Pizza Delight Fredericton
Chipman Firefighters Association
Chipman Minto Lions Club
Minto Council # 3502
A-1 Auto Supplies, Chipman
Minto Auto Supplies
Chipman Community Bingo
Village of Minto
Nashawaaksis Lion’s Club
Trius Truck Centre
To Our Members
We would also like to thank our members, and acknowledge all the time, energy, and hard work they put into making YSSR possible. All of our members are volunteers, and many are also full-time essential workers, such as teachers and health care professionals, who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since it began. Our members are dedicated to giving their best to our team and to our community in any way they can and their spark drives YSSR to be a collective of passionate, caring individuals who want to make the world a better, safer place.
In 2021, we look forward to expanding the efforts we started in 2020. We already have lots of great fundraising and community events in the works, so keep an eye on our website and social media. We have some exciting training opportunities planned that will give our members tools to be even more effective in the field. We will continue to help keep our most vulnerable safe through Project Lifesaver, and keep our most adventurous safe through AdventureSmart educational programs.