when the team is called out to search?
It all starts with someone calling North Wales Police (NWP) for help. This might be an individual or another organisation such as the Welsh Ambulance Service. NWP may first conduct their own searches and enquiries, but at some point will decide that help from our Team is required. At this point they will contact our ‘on-call’ Search Operations Planner.
Our search planners will assess the call-out, formulate an initial plan and send a Call-Out alert (by text and email) to all team members to rendezvous as soon as possible at a specified location. Many of our volunteers come straight from work or family commitments.
Our control and equipment vehicles (which are stored safely at a local Police Station) will be collected and deployed, and an Incident Control Point set up, using radio and internet-based communications plus specialist computer systems to plan, coordinate and record an incident as it progresses. A Police Search Advisor (PolSA) from NWP will normally also co-locate with our Search Operations team in our Incident Command Van.
From there, our trained and qualified volunteers will be organised into parties of four members (led by a Party Leader) and commence the search in pre-designated areas identified as the most likely locations for the missing person to be.
We operate in all weather conditions, night or day, and, while all members are qualified first aiders, we also have members with a higher level of training who are Lowland Rescue™ First Responders.
The teams will continue to search designated areas until:
- The missing person is found, or;
- The Police call off the search (sometimes because new information has come in), or;
- The Police suspend the search due to the weather or light making it unsafe for the search to continue.
All search parties are prepared and equipped to operate for up to 8 hours before being relieved by others but it’s not unusual for them to be out searching for 12 hours straight. Very often, the Call Out comes late in the evening or very early in the morning, once the Police have exhausted all other avenues.
The Team have responded to a number of call outs since becoming operational in the summer of 2018. We’ve been able to reunite missing people with their family and friends and, where the outcome wasn’t such a happy one, provide closure to their loved ones. Search and Rescue is demanding but also very satisfying and we’re all proud to be part of the Team and provide such a vital service and support to our community; it’s why we volunteer.
Although we don’t expect it, we sometimes hear back from those we rescue.
We’re delighted to know that they are well and on the mend. In one example, after we rescued an injured walker, we had a lovely response on social media from his friends, which makes it all worthwhile:
These wonderful people rescued one of our rambling group who had a fall and damaged his knee on a castle in a difficult to access area near Beaumaris. They all gave up what they were doing to come to the rescue, assessed and safely got him down from the castle and stretchered him at least 0.5 mile to a road to await an ambulance. Well done – brilliant team.
We’ve also received praise from North Wales Police; the team were awarded a Commendation by a Superintendent at Llangefni Police Station in December 2019, in recognition of our efforts and help with searching for vulnerable missing people