SPOKANE VALLEY - The Spokane County Sheriff's Office Air One rescue team successfully located a missing man who suffers from Alzheimers Disease. It was a night operation that required the use of the FLIR system.
Clyde Pentzer's family reported him missing around 2 a.m. Saturday. They told the Sheriff's Office that he wandered away from his home in Spokane Valley.
In these situation's Air One's rescue team is dispatched to search the area from the air. This team is made up of volunteers from all kinds of agencies including Medevac and Fairchild Air Force Base.
Air Force Lieutenant Colonal Olaf Holm piloted the mission to look for Pentzer.
?I had night vision goggles, the rest of the crew used the FLIR, and we looked and looked and looked with all the best equipment and we couldn't find him,? Holm said.
Night rescues are particularly difficult, so they used the FLIR system. It's an infrared camera designed to pick up objects emitting heat.
Sheriff's Department Corporal Dave Ellis says they use the camera in missing persons cases, but also to catch suspects fleeing from police.
?Even though it could be completely dark outside, looking at the camera screen, [you can] pick up all the different heat sources, so you can tell whether it's a person, an animal, a car that's running that's putting off heat,? Ellis said.
The minutes ticked by, but Holm and his crew hadn't found Pentzer.
?It was frustrating, it was about an hour, an hour and twenty minutes into the mission and when you start thinking about a person out in this weather, in the cold, you really get worried about them,? Holm said.
At daybreak Saturday, one of the officers in the helicopter spotted Pentzer leaning up against a telephone pole along North Barker Road. Clyde was cold and had a few bumps and bruises, but was otherwise okay.
Holm says this is the best possible outcome for a tense rescue mission.
?I love flying helicopters, I absolutely love it, to me it's like recess in school, so when I get an opportunity to fly I'll jump at it, and then to help the community it's a win-win for everybody,? Holm said.
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