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Arrowsmith Search and Rescue promotes special life-saving project

Aid for adults and children with cognitive impairments and prone to wandering
The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue encourages caregivers to enrol their clients with cognitive issues in Project Lifesaver International. (PQB News file photo)

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue personnel were recently involved in a successful search for a missing woman from the Craig Bay Area near Parksville.

The woman, in her 70s, suffers from a form of dementia and wandered away from her residence during the afternoon on March 29.

Approximately 20 members of the ASAR, the Oceanside RCMP and Emergency Health Services were deployed and after two hours, located the woman in the industrial park area.

Barry Blair of the ASAR noted the situation could have far more serious implications. He pointed out many situations involving many seniors who get lost for extended periods of time.

The ASAR has a program called Project Lifesaver International that can aid adults and children with cognitive impairments who are prone to wandering and getting lost. It is geared towards employing a timely response that can save lives and reduce potential injury.

“Wandering is a frightening reality of caregivers,” said Blair. “When a person with a cognitive condition becomes lost it is a critical emergency. They may not be aware of their situation and may not call out for help or respond to others who call out to them while searching.”

READ MORE: Anonymous donor starts $20K matched funding campaign for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

To take part in the program, register through the Nanaimo Lifeline at 1-250-739-5770. Clients enrolled in the program will wear a personal bracelet that has a transmitter that emits radio signal. It can be worn on the wrist or ankle.

The frequencies of each participant is specific to the individual and is not monitored or tracked unless they have been reported missing to the RCMP. The signal can be picked up on the ground for approximately 2.5 kilometres or in the air for eight to 10 kilometres.

Blair said in the past, ASAR has been involved in large scale, multi-day search operations for people who became lost. In two other searches where the subject was wearing the PLI transmitter, the missing persons were found quickly, with one in just 12 minutes.

According to the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, in 2020 British Columbia had the highest number of missing adult reports per capita, with 239 reports per 100,000 people, followed by the Yukon with 147 reports per 100,000 people. Prince Edward Island had the lowest, with nine reports per 100,000.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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