Man with dementia who wandered away from Parksville home found safe

Police located the man in Church Road near the Alberni Higheway

A man suffering from dementia was located unharmed Saturday after he wandered from his Parksville apartment, triggering a search by Oceanside RCMP and Arrowsmith Search and Rescue.

RCMP were called to the apartment on Moilliet Street at 10:45 a.m. May 21 by the man’s wife, who had discovered him missing at about 10 a.m. and who conducted her own search of the surrounding area before calling.

The man had been supplied with a Project Lifesaver bracelet by Arrowsmith SAR, so, after searching the residence and determining the man was not on site, RCMP called in SAR to employ its tracking system.

“The man had been missing for two hours when first reported to RCMP and had travelled some distance, so searchers weren’t able to pick up the signal near the home,” Arrowsmith SAR manager Ken Neden said in a written release. “Teams started search patterns, increasing in radius from the point last seen, using direction-finding receivers as well as standard search procedures.”

Before the tracking equipment located the bracelet’s signal, an RCMP corporal located the man on Church Road, near the Alberni Highway, lost but in good shape, RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman said. Foreman said that while the RCMP were able to quickly locate the man this time, the Project Lifesaver tracking system remains a valuable tool in aiding searchers in missing persons situations.

“Obviously those things are amazing,” said Foreman. “If we can’t locate the person, that is an excellent resource to have available.”

SAR tracking with the bracelet system begins with an aerial receiver mounted to a vehicle, which has a range of about a quarter-mile, Arrowsmith SAR spokesperson Barry Blair said.

When a signal is located, searchers leave the vehicle and use a hand-held unit that can pinpoint a signal a mile away. They can also triangulate a signal using both the hand-held and aerial units, if the subject is within range of both.

“This is for tracking purposes only, not surveillance,” Blair said.

“The only time we have our aerial up is when we’re called out for a search by RCMP. We are really trying to get the public aware of the Project Lifesaver program.”

— NEWS Staff and Arrowsmith SAR release