SAFER WALKING / WANDER SEARCH
The New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) Council with key stakeholders have developed the Safer Walking Partnership Framework. This framework has been formed over the past decade in response to people with cognitive impairments who go missing while out walking (otherwise referred to as wandering) with potentially very poor outcomes. Wanderer incidents as a percentage of CAT 1 land incidents is steady at around 23% each year over the past 7 years (2010/11 to 2017/18) (NZSAR Statistic). These incidents are therefore significant and with the increase of people with dementia and autism in the population there is an increased focus on this area.
The framework has four parts to it:
- Reduction: Individuals, their family/whanau and support people try to ensure that the risk of going missing is managed while maintaining healthy walking activities and access to community.
2. Readiness: In the event that the person does go missing, family/whanau and support people know what to do and the response agencies are prepared.
3. Response: The missing person is located safely in a timely manner and returned the most appropriate place.
4. Recovery: Reflect on incidents and share learnings so the programme can continuously improve.
The National Safer Walking Coordinator works for LandSAR and liaises and supports LandSAR groups and other stakeholders with the implementation of the Safer Walking Partnership Framework, and ongoing identification and assessment of new technologies to reduce the risk of going missing for vulnerable people.
Contact Clare on Clare.Teague@landsar.org.nz or 027 282 2510
One of the systems that fit into the framework is known as Wander Search – this is made up of a radio frequency (RF) device that people who are at risk of going missing wear and search equipment that Police Search and Rescue and volunteer Search and Rescue groups throughout New Zealand use to assist them locate the missing person in the speediest manner possible.
LandSAR works in partnership with all the Wander Search groups to provide guidance, support and training throughout New Zealand. Find out more about the Wander Search system and how it is managed in your area here
We are constantly on the lookout for new and better ways to support safer walking, NZSAR has funded a research project to investigate alternatives to the existing Wander Search system currently used throughout New Zealand. The first phase of the project was a literature review of any better and different technologies that are available and possibility in use overseas. This report can be found on the following link. The report indicates that while alternatives are expected to be available in the next few years there is currently nothing as small, hard wearing and lasts for six months without recharging and does not rely on the cellular network than the current Wander Search RF devices.
There are an increasing number of systems that use GPS enabled devices to provide a location of a person by either a monitoring agent or another person. These range from location-sharing applications on a mobile phone, some models of medical alarms to dedicated location devices. They are an excellent aid to enable a healthy walking lifestyle for those that have a risk of going missing; provided they can manage to maintain the battery charging requirements, care appropriately for the devices, and will be within coverage of the cellular network. The National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC) has considered the ethics of utilising devices that can be used to monitor the whereabouts of the device wearer where that person has dementia and is at risk of going missing. See NEAC Advice – Tracking Devices
Privacy of information collected by the groups managing the Safer Walking / Wander Search programme is an important consideration. NZSAR and LandSAR have had high-level privacy assessment undertaken that examined the Safer Walking / Wander Search programme. The assessment included recommendations to enhance the protection of personal information involved in the programme:
Recommended Privacy Notice (Word document for groups to complete)
Personal Information Sheet – recommended Dec 2019 (Word document for groups to complete)
The Safer Walking Profile is a risk reduction tool designed for anyone who is at risk of going missing when walking. It is based on The Herbert Protocol, the UK national scheme to help support people with dementia. The form contains vital information about the person at risk which can be given to the police at the time the person is reported missing. A recent photograph of the person should also be kept with the form. It is not intended to replace existing safeguarding and security measures. For the form and information go to the Safer Walking page of the WanderSearch New Zealand Website.
For more information on Wander Search go to the WanderSearch New Zealand Website