Recognition for volunteer people-finder
Hours spent voluntarily keeping tabs on a radio tracking system for people at risk of wandering off has earned a local man a national award.
Arron Schroder, a member of Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR), is the Alzheimer’s Society Manawatu administrator for WanderSearch, a radio frequency-based wearable tracking system that reduces the time spent looking for people who either wander or run off.
Introduced in Manawatu three years ago, Schroder has coordinated WanderSearch since its inception.
He takes care of the paperwork, delivers the trackable pendants across the MidCentral District Health Board region, checks them and replaces the batteries every six months. All on his own time and at his own expense.
His dedication had earned him a 2017 Minister of Health Volunteer Award.
‘‘It was a bit of a surprise to be nominated, let alone win that section.’’
He was one of nine from around the country who received awards from Health Minister Jonathan Coleman at Parliament.
‘‘I joined Search and Rescue after I retired seven years ago. Tramping was a passion and it was an opportunity to give back,’’ Schroder said.
A member of the incident management team, his LandSAR training had Schroder attend a suburban search course.
‘‘I saw the statistics that showed dementia was a growing issue, and read the information about WanderSearch.
‘‘I went to Andy [ Sergeant Andy Brooke, officer in charge of LandSAR in Palmerston North] and said ‘do you want someone to run this?’, and it went from there.’’
Brooke said tracking someone with a pendant usually involved a team of three, and a search was often resolved within an hour.
Without a pendant, a search could take a team of 20 or so several hours or even days.
‘‘Arron is an amazing community volunteer making sure people stay safe,’’ Alzheimer’s Manawatu manager Donna Hedley said.
Among those wearing the pendants, which included children with autism, Hedley said there was an up to 80 per cent reduction in people wandering off and running away.
Enquiries about the pendants can be made on 0800 004 001.
Arron Schroder with WanderSearch, a radio frequency based wearable pendant tracking system.