Wiltshire Search & Rescue

Working for the Community since the year 2000

Volunteering | Wiltshire Search & Rescue

Volunteering

We are an entirely voluntary organisation and are completely reliant on the time that people are prepared to invest in fundraising, training and, most importantly, responding to requests to find missing people.

Nearly all of our volunteers take on operational roles i.e. they are available to assist in the search for a missing person.  All members successfully complete the Lowland Search Technician course before becoming operational. After further experience this can then lead on to becoming a Team Leader or Search Planner. Further specialist courses are available including Lost Person Behaviour, Navigation, Tracking and Flood First Responder.


 We support UKLSI as a training provider.


If an operational role isn't for you, we also have volunteers who support the team with fundraising and other tasks.  All our operational team members also get involved in fundraising throughout the year.


If you are thinking about volunteering for Wiltshire Search and Rescue, please read our frequently asked questions below before you apply. If you’re still interested in applying, then please email us

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I wanted to put the outdoor adventure training skills I had to further good use and give something back to the local community"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I wanted to be part of a group of dedicated volunteers and learn new skills"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because the rewards of being a volunteer are immeasurable"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because when I was younger my Nan, who had dementia, went walkies from her care home, later to be found by the police. Fortunately, she was ok, but it could have been so different. I felt helpless and was sure I could do more"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because having a parent who volunteers for a mountain rescue team, I have seen the positive impact an organisation like this can have on the local community"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I have seen first hand the comfort that Wiltshire Search & Rescue can bring to family members of missing persons when they know we are out looking for their loved ones"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I can be part of something special and help people having problems. I’m very conscious one day that could be me, my mum or my children"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I wanted to do more of the things I love doing such as being outdoors, having a challenge, meeting new people and giving something back to the community at the same time. I didn’t appreciate what I was doing at the time of joining but now I’m very proud to be part of the team"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I wanted to do something positive in my free time and to learn some really valuable skills as well"

"I choose to volunteer for Wiltshire Search & Rescue because I wanted to make a difference to the local community and use my military skills to good effect to save lives whilst working within a team of like minded, professional and committed people"

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many hours will we need to train for?
  • It takes around 80-100 hours to qualify as a Search Technician, with most completing their training in about 6 months. There are several mandatory training sessions which are either delivered on a weekend, or on a Wednesday evening. Dates are released early in the recruitment process to allow prospective trainees to plan ahead, and repeated later in the year.
    These sessions include:
  • Basic Medical Skills – to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to care for victims of life-threatening illnesses or injuries until they can be given full medical care at a hospital.
  • Water Awareness – understanding and assessing the risks surrounding searching in water-based environments such as rivers, canals etc
  • Proof of Fitness – To walk five miles in under two hours over rough terrain whilst carrying team kit.
  • Using the Wiltshire Search and Rescue online management system
  • Using a digital radio and basic navigational skills.

    There are exercises every month to put the skills learned into practice in a realistic scenario. There is also the opportunity to attend a two-day residential UK Lowland Search Institute (UKLSI) course, where many of the Search Technician skills are taught in multiple sessions.

2. What other training is available?

There are opportunities to progress from a Search Technician through to Team Leader or Search Manager, and to develop more specialist skills such as Team Medic,  Flood Rescue, Bike Searcher and Tracking.

3. Can you tell me about the vetting/criminal record check?

All trainees must complete Non-Police Personnel Vetting Level 1. This is so that Wiltshire Police can be confident that the operational team members are suitable to care for missing and vulnerable adults and children, and to have access to Police premises.

Not all criminal convictions or cautions are an immediate bar to volunteering. Team members do not get to see the specific details of your disclosure, only if you are/ aren’t suitable for the role. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

4. Once trained, do we work shifts or are we on-call?

Wiltshire Search and Rescue works on an on-call system and all operational members are required to use an app or SMS messages to signal whether they are available to attend a callout.

A team member can change their on-call status at a moment’s notice, and we understand that work and family commitments should come first.

5. Once trained, how many hours do we have to commit?

As many as you are able to. On average, the team is called out 50-70 times a year to search for vulnerable and missing people. It is also expected that members will support with fundraising events, mentoring new trainees and helping to plan exercises as and when they can give their time. There is the option to go on sabbatical for several months if work or family means you cannot commit for a period.

Every operational member is required to attend a minimum of 25% of call-outs per year (roughly 1 a month). It is important that life-saving skills are kept up-to-date, so operational members are required to attend at least 25% of training sessions, and some qualifications need to be reassessed every year.

6. Is there an age limit?

We accept trainees from 18 years old and there is no upper age limit. Providing you are capable of maintaining your skills and fitness level, everyone is welcome to volunteer. There is a proof of fitness walk that expects all operational members to walk five miles in under two hours carrying team equipment over rough terrain.  Support members are not required to complete a proof of fitness walk.

To drive a team vehicle, you must be 25 years old.

7. Do we need any special qualifications?

A full UK driving licence and access to a vehicle is necessary. Due to the time critical, 24/7 nature of Search and Rescue, public transport is not a suitable alternative.

All other training will be given, although recognition of prior learning will be considered for some subjects like medical and water rescue.

8. When and where does the training happen?

Most training takes place on Wednesday evenings from 19:30 – 22:00 at the Wiltshire Police HQ in Devizes and on Sundays between 09:00 and 16:00. Exercises to test the skills learned can be anywhere in Wiltshire.

9. What do Search Technicians actually do?

A Search Technician (ST) aims to find a missing or vulnerable person, provide any initial life-saving treatment and then move them to a place of safety. This could be into the back of an ambulance, or home to their worried family members. An ST is qualified to Lowland Rescue National Standards, so neighbouring teams can work together.

Search Technicians have the responsibility of turning up at a callout with the appropriate clothing and equipment, to be fit and well enough to go out and search for the missing person, to follow instruction from their Team Leader, and support the other members of their team.

While out on a search, Search Technicians will work in small teams to locate the missing person. They will work under direction from the Team Leader, who will have been briefed on a plan from the Search Manager. Search skills, communication and the ability to take instruction will all be used on a search. It is also important that every member of Wiltshire Search and Rescue is respectful to members of the public, especially family and friends of the missing person, that they meet on a search.

10. I can’t commit to becoming a Search Technician. Are there any other roles?

Wiltshire Search and Rescue relies entirely on grants and fundraising for income so anyone that would like to join to support with fundraising will be welcomed. There are also administrative roles such as graphic design, web development and supporting the writing of funding applications. If you have skills in business, equipment maintenance, communication or fundraising, then we’d love to hear from you if you have time to volunteer in a support role.

11. Do we need to sign a contract?

There is a volunteer agreement that we ask everyone to sign that signifies a voluntary contract between us but is not an employment contract. It sets out what is expected and how Wiltshire Search and Rescue will support you.

12. I work full-time. Can I still join?

Yes. Most of our volunteers have paid jobs and fit in their operational duties during their free time if their employers can’t release them. You are able to choose when you are available and on-call through our online management system. You are never expected to turn down your primary employment or family commitments to support Wiltshire Search and Rescue but there is mandatory training that needs to be completed each year in order for you to remain operational.

13. Do we get paid? What about expenses?

There is no salary as all positions are voluntary. Expenses are not paid so you need to be responsible for your own fuel, food, drinks and outdoor clothing. All operational members will be issued personal protective equipment and uniform, other items such as boots and outdoor clothing are the financial responsibility of the members. Fuel is the single biggest expense, as team members travel all over Wiltshire (and occasionally to surrounding counties) for callouts. Basic training is free, but we encourage our trainees to attend a UKSLI (UK Lowland Search Institute) weekend course for which there is a small charge.

Copyright © Wiltshire Search and Rescue, Registered charity number 1095994

PRIVACY POLICY

This privacy policy sets out how Wiltshire Search & Rescue (www.wilsar.org) uses and protects any information that you give it when you:
a) visit the site
b) submit information via the contact form.
c) contact us via email.


What information do we collect about you?

We collect your name, email address and any message that you send us.


How will we use the information we have about you?

We will use this information to respond to your enquiry and provide the services requested. Wiltshire Search & Rescue will not share your information with anyone else.


Marketing

We do not use your information to market to you.


Looking after your information

Your information (name, email address and message) is stored on secure servers and is never shared with any other third party. Only Wiltshire Search & Rescue sees this information, unless you ask us to refer you on to another professional and give permission to share your details.


Access to your information and correction

You have the right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you. If you would like a copy of your personal information, please email us.


Cookies

www.wilsar.org uses cookies, as most websites do. Cookies are small text files placed on your computer. The cookies we use are to make the website function, to track visitor use of the website and to compile statistical reports on website activity. For further information visit www.aboutcookies.org or www.allaboutcookies.org. We do not use cookies for any other purpose e.g. marketing.


You can set your browser not to accept cookies and the above websites tell you how to remove cookies from your browser. However in a few cases some of our website features may not function as a result.


PLEASE NOTE

We may change this policy on occasions by updating this page to keep up to date with EU privacy regulations. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.