This is the first in a series of posts guest written by Dave Hughes, a trainee going through the process of becoming a search technician. In each post he’ll tell you about his experiences and the training that he receives.

Training as a search technician: Part 1, The New Boy

Hi, I’m Dave and this feels a bit like the first day at school – except it’s a Sunday.  As a trainee search technician for Wiltshire Search and Rescue, this was my first session; meeting the other trainees and learning about the organisation from a number of the existing team members.  As part of that I agreed to blog about it and share some of my experiences.  

Once through all the introductions, it was a sprint through what our training over the next six months would cover as well as a rapid tour of what Wiltshire Search and Rescue team members actually do on a day to day basis.  After a couple of hours, my head was well and truly spinning as I attempted to remember everything they told me.  As it turned out, all of the material would be covered in a lot more detail over subsequent training sessions so there was no need to panic just yet….

After a quick measure up for uniform and a conversation about the critical need for fundraising given the entirely voluntary nature of the organisation, it was off to join some of the rest of the team who were undertaking a search exercise nearby so that we could see what it all looked like in practice.

After a full day of talks, presentations and exercises, I collapsed in my car and headed home.  So what did I take learn from today?

This stuff is important.  The team get called out about once a week on average to search for a missing person.  This person may be despondent, have dementia or even be suicidal.  If we get it wrong, somebody could die.  If I get it wrong, somebody could die.  Gulp.  Makes it all feel very real.
That explains why so much effort goes into the training – this isn’t a bunch of people who amble about the area that the police request hoping they spot someone.  This is a team with professional skills and qualifications in areas like first aid / medicine, search techniques, water search, search planning, bike search – the list goes on and on.  To become a search technician you need to learn a lot – but as everyone there has been through it, there is loads of support to get you through it.  So a little nervous but also excited.
We use a lot of equipment from boats and bikes through to radios and torches.  Not to mention the control vehicle and equipment van.  We don’t have a helicopter – though various people seem to think we do!  I’ve also learnt that there is an unofficial race going on as to who has the most powerful personal torch…
It’s made up of people from all sorts of backgrounds and it is entirely voluntary, so many team members have a full time job and then are on call all night – I’m a little in awe of the personal commitment these people show.  Something to live up to.
We are entirely self-funded – from grant applications for larger pieces of equipment right through to collection tins simply to keep the response vehicles full of diesel.  Fundraising is a permanent activity and everyone gets involved with fundraising activities – even the trainees.  Time to have a ponder what part I can play!

Right, that’s enough from me – I’m sure this will all make sense eventually