'Hi-tech tracking device saved my life' - family speak on Durdle Door rescue

RELIEVED: John and Rosemary Dunn Picture: Picture: Michael Mincham

RESCUE: Coastguard at Durdle Door

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by

THE wife of a man who went missing in remote Dorset countryside said a hi-tech device saved his life.

John Dunn, who suffers from dementia, disappeared during a family walk at Durdle Door on Christmas Day.

Thanks to a tracking device, he was found within an hour on an isolated farm track, around three miles from the main coastal path.

Mr Dunn, 73, was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester in a distressed state suffering from early signs of hypothermia.

His wife Rosemary Dunn, 62, said: “If John hadn’t been wearing the device around his neck it would have been very difficult to locate him.

“And if it hadn’t been for the first responder using the co-ordinates to find him, we wouldn’t have got to him so fast.

“I panicked as soon as I realised John was missing. It was surprising how far he got in a short time.

“Having this locator made all the difference.”

The Dunn family, from Midhurst, West Sussex, rented a cottage in West Lulworth over Christmas.

Mr Dunn, who was diagnosed with dementia six months ago, was wearing a locator device from MindMe.

Mrs Dunn phoned the healthcare firm’s response centre to find the exact location of her husband.

She said she wished to thank rescuers Steve Pack, a South Western Ambulance Service responder and the Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team.

Mr Pack, who is based at Lulworth Cove, was out walking his dog and joined the search for Mr Dunn when a member of the family party asked him to help.

He said: “If he didn’t have the tracking device we could have been looking for him for a lot longer.

“It was quite cold, it was really wet and the ground was saturated with water.

“It could have been the worst scenario if we weren’t able to find him so quickly with the device.”

The Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team joined Mr Pack in the search for Mr Dunn, with both search and rescue teams using the coordinates from the MindMe response centre to locate him on an isolated farm track just north of Bats Head, west of Durdle Door. Mrs Dunn praised the rescuers and the MindMe locator device.

She said: “I just cannot begin to explain how much of a relief it is to know that when you’ve lost someone there is a way of finding them again.

“If it hadn’t been for the people helping us, especially the man in the ambulance car, I dread to think what would have happened.”

Working together

A SPOKESMAN for the South Western Ambulance Foundation Trust said: “This is an excellent example of agencies working together for the benefit of the community.

“It was fortunate that Mrs Dunn stumbled upon the Lulworth Responder Group leader Steve Pack, who was able to get the wheels in motion, and while this is not normal activity for a community first responder, it really does highlight the importance of a cohesive community initiative.”

Kevin Burt, station officer of the Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team said: “It was an excellent result.

“It was a cold, blustery day and everyone who took part did really well.”

Comments (1)

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8:31pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Jeremy Jay says...

The unasked question remains as to how this man was out on a family walk on Christmas Day and that nobody was looking after him sufficiently enough to keep him close by them, especially if they were walking at Durdle Door, on a day when it was also cold and wet.

How many people were on that family walk? A family group of 4, or 6, or 10 or more?

But nobody bothered to look after him, a person known to have dementia. That is the unasked and unanswered question.
The unasked question remains as to how this man was out on a family walk on Christmas Day and that nobody was looking after him sufficiently enough to keep him close by them, especially if they were walking at Durdle Door, on a day when it was also cold and wet. How many people were on that family walk? A family group of 4, or 6, or 10 or more? But nobody bothered to look after him, a person known to have dementia. That is the unasked and unanswered question. Jeremy Jay
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