Fire Fighting in Canada

Uncategorized Emergency Management
BC Search and Rescue Association inks MOU with Alzheimer Society of B.C.

July 14, 2023 
By BC Search and Rescue Association

In June, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize their efforts to work together to reduce the risk of people living with dementia becoming lost or disoriented and requiring rescue.

The society’s mission is to ensure people affected by dementia are not alone by mobilizing a broad community of care and support around them and enabling research into the disease and the people affected by it. BCSARA’s mandate is to support the unpaid professional ground search and rescue community by providing advocacy, support for funding and health and safety, access to information as well as public education and prevention.

Search and rescue groups in B.C. now average approximately 40 searches per year involving people living with dementia and the occurrence of dementia in British Columbians is predicted to increase by more than 200 per cent over the next 30 years. Both organizations have a desire to reduce the occurrence of dementia-related searches, which are not only extremely challenging in an urban environment but can also end in tragedy.

Through this new partnership, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and BCSARA will:

  • Provide training to ground search and rescue (GSAR) members on how best to communicate with people living with dementia.
  • When found, refer people along with their family and friends to the society for information and resources, and to reduce the risk of losing their way in the future.
  • Provide webinars to educate the general public on signs and symptoms of dementia and how to reduce the risk of a person living with dementia losing their way.
  • Share data related to dementia between the two organizations.
  • Continue discussions on further collaboration to advance our shared goal of creating dementia-friendly communities.

“Searching for people living with dementia can be extremely difficult. Such searches are often in an urban environment with multiple avenues of travel including walking and public transit. These searches often take hours or days and, as time goes on, the risk of a positive outcome diminishes. Some are never found,” said BCSARA CEO Dwight Yochim.

“No one thing will prevent a person living with dementia from becoming disoriented,” Jennifer Lyle, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of B.C., said. “We need to work together as a community, with an informed public and partnerships like these, to develop multiple strategies to reduce the risk. The Alzheimer Society of B.C. is always here to help people living with dementia and their families explore practical ways to stay safe in their communities.”

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