Wiltshire Search & Rescue

Working for the Community since the year 2000

About | Wiltshire Search & Rescue

Our Mission

Making our communities safer by delivering a world-class standard of Search and Rescue services, saving lives where every second counts.

Our Vision

To be the best Search and Rescue Team we can be; working relentlessly to ensure that saving lives and supporting the statutory Emergency Services is at the centre of everything we do. 

We are committed to developing our members into confident, professional volunteers, who are ready to respond 24/7, find missing & vulnerable people and get them to a place of safety.

Our Values

Excellence: We strive to provide nothing less than an outstanding capability, which our stakeholders know we will reliably deliver every time they call for our assistance.

Professionalism: When a Firefighter, Police officer or Paramedic sees someone in our uniform, they know that although being a volunteer, that person will behave in the manner that is expected of the UK Emergency Services.

Responsibility: Our team has a culture of ensuring our volunteers are people who can be trusted and depended on, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Inclusivity: We maximise our resources for the benefit of the whole community, and make sure nobody is excluded, discriminated against or left behind.

Compassion: We ensure that compassion is central to the service we provide, and we respond with humanity and kindness to each person’s pain, distress, anxiety or need.

Transparency: As an organisation we strive to be open and honest in how we conduct ourselves and communicate with our stakeholders, whilst at the same time respecting and protecting confidential and sensitive information. In the event that something goes wrong, we will be candid with those affected, ensure we learn from our mistakes and enable others to learn from them too.

Our Priorities

Public benefit – we will continue to listen to our stakeholders and ensure that the service we provide adapts to meet the ever-changing needs of the emergency response sector.

Be there when you need us – we will continue to provide a professional and prompt response when an emergency happens in Wiltshire, and be ready to give mutual aid across England and Wales if required.

Supporting and developing our people – making sure our volunteers are at the centre of everything we do, are well led and have the right knowledge and skills, is crucial to the success of our mission.

Make every penny count – we will continue to be a well-respected and trusted charity, using donations and grants in a responsible way to achieve our objectives.

Growing for the future - We will prepare to meet new challenges in years to come, with strategic direction to give a clear plan to base decision-making on.

What we do

Every year thousands of people go missing.  They may be despondent and in need of medical attention, have dementia and are confused, or are vulnerable, young or in danger.

Lowland Search and Rescue teams exist to find those vulnerable and missing people, and remove them to a place of safety. We cover the area between the mountains and the coast, in urban or rural areas, at any time of the day or night. Last year, we were called out to assist Wiltshire Police over 70 times and our team gave over 25,000 voluntary hours.

Requests for the team to be deployed come from a Category 1 responder, for example the Fire, Police or Ambulance Services, a Local Authority or an NHS hospital.

The Team consists of approximately 75 members who can be called out by one of our Duty Phone Holders. They will act as a point of contact for an emergency service control room. Searches are then managed on the ground by our own Search Managers, who act under the direction of a Police Search Advisor (PolSA.) or an Officer in Charge.

Although our main role is one of search and rescue we can also be called out to help in situations where our training and equipment may be of use, such as assisting the ambulance service to retrieve an injured paraglider who had crashed into the side of a hill, preparing flood defences in severe weather, and getting doctors, midwifes and nurses through heavy snow to save lives.

We are a non-profit making organisation and rely on our own fundraising, along with donations, grants and sponsorship from the public and companies. We receive no government funding, and are a registered charity. All of our members are unpaid volunteers and we make no charge for our services.

Where we operate

We primarily cover the County of Wiltshire. We also regularly assist neighbouring Lowland Rescue teams in Oxfordshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Berkshire, and will assist any Search and Rescue Team or emergency service requesting help in England and Wales if possible. The map below shows our callouts over the past 5 years.

How we train

All operational members are trained to the Lowland Rescue National Standards, in various roles.  

Our core role is that of a Search Technician trained in search techniques, casualty care, navigation, radio communications, missing person behaviour and scene management amongst others.  These will be led by a Team Leader.

Search Technicians can go on to train in additional specialisms such as tracking, bike search and water search as well as further medical qualifications.  Our First Responders qualify on a national medical course and then then attend regular ongoing training with the Ambulance Service and the Emergency Department at Great Western Hospital. Our Water team is qualified to the DEFRA Flood Rescue standards, and can enter the water by swimming or using our boats.  Our training includes how to work with the other Emergency Services safely and effectively e.g. around helicopters.

Some search technicians go on to trains as Search Planners (plan the search areas based on their knowledge of missing person behaviour), Search Operations (organises the teams and runs the actual search process) or as overall Search Manager.  

We train nearly every week and hold monthly exercises, which ensures a high state of readiness, competence and professionalism.  We run a training programme for new volunteers each year.  If you'd like to find out more about joining us, find out more here.

Important achievements include receiving the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2011 and Wiltshire Police’s Chief Constable’s Certificate of Appreciation in 2013.

Our equipment

Throw lines   Oxygen Bottle   Basket Stretcher   Resuscitation Mask   Compass   Alcohol Swabs   Rescue Sled   Scene Lights   Torch  Gloves   Secure Radios   4x4   Generator   Thermal Blanket   Drysuits  GPS   Radio Mast   Search Poles   Control Van   Defibrillator   Tea Urn (!)   Safety Glasses   Water Rescue Ropes   Search Bikes   Life Jacket   Maps   Rescue Knife Helmets Bandages Splints
To cope with all of the various search and rescue scenarios we use and maintain a wide range of equipment - all of which we have to fund.

The team has three vehicles: an Incident Control Vehicle to act as a command point at a callout, a Support Vehicle to carry the large quantities of kit, and a 4×4 for rapid rescues off-road.

Search teams will carry a team bag containing a medical kit, thermal blankets, scene preservation equipment, safety equipment and cutting equipment along with a radio and maps.  

In addition each team member will carry personal equipment including a search torch, resuscitation mask, protective gear along with personal food and water to support them for 8 hours in the field.

More specialist equipment is carried in the support vehicle and deployed as required.  This includes search bikes, equipment to search in, on and around water, lighting, more advanced medical equipment including defibrillators, stretchers, rope and access equipment and of course, the tea urn.  

Significant amount of time is spent training on and maintaining this equipment as well as on the fundraising to purchase and replace this equipment. 

Copyright © Wiltshire Search and Rescue, Registered charity number 1095994 The "Lowland Rescue" mark is a trademark, and "From Hill to High Water" is a registered trademark of the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue and are used under licence.

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