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'Silver Alert' advocate still waiting on province to move on tracking tech for missing Alzheimer's sufferers

Last Updated Sep 18, 2018 at 6:38 pm PDT

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — Five years after the disappearance of a Coquitlam father, his family continues to push for the creation and implementation of a Silver Alert program in BC. It would work similar to an Amber Alert.

On September 18th, 2013, 64-year-old Shin Noh, who has Alzheimer’s, left his home to go for a walk but never returned.

Noh’s son Sam, says he had hoped with a new governing party in BC, a Silver Alert program would have progressed to a reality by now.

“[Coquitlam MLA] Selina Robinson initially proposed a private members’ bill for the Silver Alert when she was in opposition. So, a few months back we did reach out to Selina Robinson and she mentioned that this is still an important issue for her but the government is currently occupied with other matters.”

He feels everything is in place right now if Victoria approved the system.

“We have all the technology in place right now. There are ways to deal target alerts, so that you can choose a radius to receive alerts,” explains Noh. “So, all this technology we already have in our community, but we’re not utilizing it for the silver alerts. There is a little bit of frustration that I am feeling.”

After hearing about his experience, he adds other advocates have reached to him, including researchers from the University of Alberta who helped pass legislation in that province.

“Alberta has further progress towards the silver alerts. These researchers have also developed the Community ASAP app, which essentially is tool to quickly spread information about a missing person with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Noh has an idea of what he’d like to see if Silver Alerts were brought here.

“A text alert, once again, that would be one method. We do have the option of geo-targeting… because I do believe there has to be some sort of strategy… it doesn’t make sense, like if someone goes missing in Kamloops to alert the whole province. There needs to be some strategy around that and I do believe that we have that technology in order to geo-target areas to receive alerts.”

Noh is disappointed this kind of system hasn’t been put in place, adding he sees an uptick of people suffering from Alzheimer’s wandering off, leaving their loved ones in the lurch.

“If you think about it, for the last five years — I mean there is greater awareness for Alzheimer’s but we have to think this disease is on the rise. So within the last five years many more families are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and six-out-of-10 do wander and this problem is only going to get worse.”

Noh feels had the system already been in place, his father would have been found shortly after having gone missing. He says regardless of whether the province makes a move, he’ll continue to advocate for the Silver Alert system. “This issue is not going away.”

There had been several confirmed sightings of Noh’s father in the days after his disappearance but they weren’t reported until three days after the fact. “Time is of the essence to find a missing person with Alzheimer’s alive.”

A national petition had previously been launched pushing for a Silver Alert system in Canada.