Search system locates missing Alzheimer's sufferer

The Wanda-Search wands and aerials. Photo / NZ Police
The Wanda-Search wands and aerials. Photo / NZ Police

Waikato Police hope the successful conclusion of a search for a missing elderly Alzheimer's sufferer will attract more subscribers to technology they say made all the difference.

Constable Brian Connors of the Waikato Search and Rescue Squad said Alzheimer's sufferer James Goldsworthy was located in Whangamata shortly after 11am, more than four hours after he was reported missing by family from an Ocean Rd property.

"He was found safe and well though a bit disorientated and in need of a drink.

"Fortunately Mr Goldsworthy had subscribed to a radio tracking system which, on the arrival of a tracking device from Thames, was able to successfully locate him within 16 minutes of the system being deployed."

Mr Connors said the system, known as Wanda-Search involves people pendants that send out a radio signal that can be tracked.

"People are referred to the service by their doctor and in some cases the Alzheimer's service. Other users in the Coromandel include victims of brain injury and also some Autistic children.

"The difference the system makes is considerable. Earlier in the year we were faced with a similar situation where 680 search hours were taken to locate a missing person where as here, it took just over a quarter of an hour to locate Mr Goldsworthy."

While highlighting the value of the Wanda-Search system Mr Connors said Police also wanted to thank the local Surf Life Saving Club who conducted beach searches, the public who responded to calls for sightings and media who publicised Mr Goldsworthy's plight.

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