When Nick Rivers was called out on a search for a man with dementia Monday afternoon, he had a good feeling that the search would be successful.

“I picked up the signal about two kilometres away,” said Rivers, a search manager with Arrowsmith Search & Rescue.

The man, who was in his 70s, was wearing a tracking bracelet after walking away from his home that’s part of Project Lifesaver.

“This is the first task that we’ve used Project Lifesaver since implementing it in 2013,” said Rivers.

For a small monthly fee, those with dementia or cognitive issues can wear the bracelet and know they’ll be more easily found if they go missing.

“Having the wrist band on is a reminder not to wander. So the program since it started years ago down in the States saw a huge decline in the people wandering after they had the bracelet on and after they did wander 95 per cent were found within 30 minutes,” said Rivers.

And that’s what happened in this case. After the call was placed, Rivers and the rest of the crew found the man within 12 minutes.

“In this particular instance, we had snow Tuesday morning so being out overnight with cold temperatures, wet. It could’ve been a completely different outcome if it wasn’t able to be resolved that fast.”

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue is called to help find people with dementia or cognitive issues about 15 times a year. In some cases, the searches don’t end successfully.

“The conversation I always have with people who are at our command posts while we’re looking for their loved ones is that hindsight is 20/20,” said Rivers. “They wished they’d had it sooner. It’s never that bad until you need it but when you need it it’s too late.”

In this case, Rivers said the man’s wife was thrilled he was found and glad they were part of Project Lifesaver.

Kendall Hanson