Emergency services work together to rescue vulnerable woman from Shenley

Police and firefighters worked together to find a vulnerable woman who went missing from Shenley. Pi

Police and firefighters worked together to find a vulnerable woman who went missing from Shenley. Picture: Herts police - Credit: Archant

Police and fire services rescued a vulnerable elderly woman with dementia who went missing from her home in Shenley.

Emergency services worked through the night to find the woman, who wandered away from her home on December 30 and was found injured in a ditch at 9.30am the following day.

As part of their new joint working agreement, 'Operation Magnify', police officers and firefighters worked in challenging conditions and braved dense fog, heavy vegetation and very poor lighting conditions.

The woman had sustained several injuries from falling in the ditch and was taken to hospital. She is now recovering at home with her family.

Her daughter said: "The emergency services response was absolutely amazing. I still cannot believe you managed to find her and that you persevered despite the weather and the darkness.

"I honestly don't think we would have found her without your help."

Operation Magnify was formed between the police force and fire service last year, and sees them pooling their services and resources when searching for high-risk missing people.

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Thanks to this sharing of resources, officers were able to use the fire service's drone and police thermal heat equipment in the search for the missing woman.

Every year, police receive countless calls relating to incidents where there is concern regarding the safety or welfare of an individual, particularly where they have gone missing and are vulnerable - in 2018 a total of 5,235 people were reported missing across Hertfordshire, and 708 of these were considered to be high risk.

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are specially trained in search techniques to locate people who may have become trapped or lost inside a building, and water based searching. They have access to specialist equipment, command vehicles, thermal imaging, a water rescue team and a rope access team.

Chief Insp Steve O'Keeffe, who leads the Hertfordshire Constabulary Police Search team, said: "Firstly, I'd like to say thank you for all the public support we received, with over 100 people joining the police search effort.

"Whether you physically assisted in the search for her, or shared our social media appeals, we are very grateful for all of your help - as is the victim and her family.

"The success of this operation speaks for itself - without the assistance of the Herts Fire and Rescue team, we wouldn't have been able to rescue this lady as efficiently as we did.

"It truly was a joint effort. Without this collaborative working style, I have no doubt that without the assistance of our HFRS personnel that finding her would have been delayed significantly, to the cost of her health."