The 4th annual Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference will be held on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 at the Star Gold Coast.
Mr Adrian Sinclair, Detective Sergeant with Victoria Police joins us at the Conference to present ‘Working together to reduce the risk to boaters suffering dementia’.
Dementia factors relating to missing persons on land are well understood, but less so in the marine field. About a sixth of all marine rescues in Victoria involve ‘recidivists’, that is people who have been saved before, and many cases include boaters with signs of cognitive decline. The marine SAR system, comprising regulators, police and volunteers, focuses on response to incidents but not much orientation toward prevention, apart from traditional education campaigns, however we all have obligations, whether mandated or moral, to improve marine safety so we should also think about preventing SAR incidents and not just reacting to them.
Volunteers attended the bulk of marine rescues and have the greatest interaction with boaters, which makes them the most important interface with the public and best placed to alert authorities if a boater shows symptoms of dementia, but current processes are ad-hoc and reluctance by some volunteers to say something needs overcoming for the system to identify vulnerable boaters and intervene to prevent a distress incident occurring.
Police, as a SAR authority, must make the best use of volunteers and information, yet police tend to only use volunteers as a search unit or as a tow vessel. Police engagement with volunteers typically consists of practice exercises but not encouragement and guidance to identify and report at-risk persons, when perhaps it should. A Marine Incident Recidivist Program just finished its first year in Victoria Police. Analysis and interviews with boaters who were repeatedly saved identified several with dementia symptoms, prompting medical, regulatory and family intervention to prevent further incidents. Everyone in the SAR system has a role to play, and volunteers are the first and most important link in the chain to spot the signs and help avert a tragedy before it happens.
A member of Victoria Police for 24 years, and the Water Police Squad for the last 13 years at all levels. Completed the National Search and Rescue Managers Course in 2009 and the Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Police Search & Rescue Management) in 2012. Instructor on the Victorian State Search & Rescue Course (Marine) since 2010 (senior instructor since 2012). Founding member and senior investigator in Victoria Police’s Marine Investigation Unit since 2013. For the last 5 years has investigated or overseen every fatal and serious marine incident in Victoria.
For information on the upcoming 2018 Australian and New Zealand Search and Rescue Conference please visit the conference website.
Tags: dementia, Mental Health, mental illness