Matt Pestell a Rescue Leader in the Gosnells State Emergency Service (SES) was on his way home from the SES unit last Wednesday night when he noticed a gentleman on the side of the road. His description matched that of an Alzheimer disease patient the SES and Police were currently searching for so he stopped his car and spoke to him. The gentleman was in fact the missing man so Matt took him to the Cannington Police station where the gentleman was picked up by Police and reunited with his worried wife.
Earlier in the afternoon the 64 year old told his wife he was going for a ride on his pushbike and set off. Hours later his wife alerted the Police that he had not returned and they began conducting some preliminary enquiries and searched the local area by vehicle. By 4pm the SES were called to assist with an expanded search and the SES Gosnells immediately provided a “quick search pushbike team.” By 5pm police vehicles had expanded their search, the fixed wing police aircraft and Police helicopter had become involved in the search and security cameras in and around Northbridge had been programmed to detect this gentleman. Night was falling and the weather forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. They were becoming very worried for this man’s welfare. More SES teams arrived as these volunteers finished their work and eventually there were 16 SES teams conducting organised searches for this gentleman. The volunteers were prepared to search through the night to find him.
The SES team from Gosnells were relieved later in the evening and when the returned to their base at approximately 10pm During the debrief, Matt asked who the missing person was, and the general details of the man. He left the SES Unit to go home shortly afterwards and that is when he came across the gentleman, walking on the side of the Kenwick Link in Kenwick.
This gentleman lives in Leederville and the search for him was being conducted between Perth city and Guildford and down to the river bike paths in between. A huge area! No one ever expected him to be as far afield as Kenwick. He was just fortunate that Matt’s SES training kicked in and he stopped his car to check. Matt said “the man was wet, cold, disorientated and very grateful I stopped and arranged for him to go home.”
A huge well done to Matt Pestell and the dozens of SES volunteers who spent many cold, wet hours searching for another lost person. It is worth remembering that volunteers would not be able to make this commitment without the support of their families and employers.