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.
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.
Response: The missing person is located safely in a timely manner and returned the most appropriate place.
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 tracking device that people who are at risk of going missing wear and tracking 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 the WanderSearch NZ Charitable Trust to provide guidance, support and training to groups throughout New Zealand managing the Wander Search tracking system. To find out more about the Wander Search tracking system and how it is managed in your area go to the WanderSearch New Zealand Charitable Trust.
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 robust and suitable for use than the devices being produced by WandaTrak and Bart Dinger Electronics.
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 (Word document for groups to complete)