TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Van Rensselaer Manor is a 362-bed senior nursing and rehabilitation facility currently serving 270 Capital Region residents, 80 of whom are long-term care memory patients. On Saturday morning, the facility conducted a missing resident drill in collaboration with Rensselaer County law enforcement agencies and K-9s from the Rensselaer County Search and Rescue Team.
“If this was an actual missing person, we’d have fire, we’d have state police, drones—we would have everything going, including multiple dogs. It would be all hands on deck,” said Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin. “You have to keep your skills sharp no matter what.”
The drill helps facility staff prepare for real-life scenarios. A specially trained bloodhound followed the scent of a volunteer staff member, tracking them to a wooded area neighboring the senior center, finding them, and bringing them back to a command post inside the building. The center has more precautions in place in the event that a search takes over 24 hours.
John Wasielewski, Assistant Administrator for Van Rensselaer Manor, said that patients who go missing can pose a serious danger to themselves. “They’re often not properly dressed for the environment,” he said. “Underclothed—be it hot weather, cold weather, or rain—they often want to seek their former homes. They don’t know where those homes are, but they want to get there.”
Wasielewski said that collaboration between the senior center and local law enforcement agencies is crucial to successfully finding missing residents. “We have additional resources we can count on such as volunteer fire departments, state police, aviation drones that are available to us in case this did become a larger situation,” Wasielewski said.