Finding Betty

By Martin Blake

Martin Blake


43 Division
Emergency Management & Public Order

The use of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systemis being credited with saving a missing senior’s life.

In mid December, members of 43 Division were dispatched to a missing person call. The senior, a 71-year-old who goes by Betty, suffers from Alzheimer’s was last seen at 5 p.m. that evening. She was not dressed for the weather and the forecast around the freezing point.

“I was so worried I had lost her, the only thing I could do is call 9-1-1,” said her husband Percy.

When the ground search failed to locate the woman near her home, a request was made to use the Service’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and Constable Mike Ramsay responded to the call.

“There are several green spaces close to where the woman was last seen which are difficult for ground searchers to check. It is a typical space that is beneficial to be checked by the Service’s drone.”

It was minus 1 Celsius and she was only wearing a light jacket and slippers.

Using one of the Service’s fifteen RPAS units, Ramsay located the woman around 11:49 p.m. lying on the ground and quickly directed officers and paramedics to her location.

“The woman was in a wooded location on a steep incline about 10 metres into the ravine,” Ramsay said. “She would have been impossible to spot in the dark by ground search personnel.”

The woman was transported to hospital for treatment before reuniting with her family.

“I couldn’t express my gratitude to the Toronto Police because they were so efficient, so professional and have the knowledge to use all those tools, those aerial technologies – I really appreciate it,” he said.

Inspector Dave Ecklund, of the Emergency Management & Public Order Unit, said the aerial thermal cameras are an invaluable tool.

“That search may have gone on for days using personnel on the ground and we may have been dealing with a fatality,” he said. “The bush where she was found was heavy, and she was down an embankment and not within the immediate search area. The drone was invaluable, especially with its thermal camera technology.”

The Toronto Police Service investigates approximately 4,300 missing persons every year.

You do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing.

To learn more, visit our Missing Persons webpage.

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