Archive for February, 2016

WILSAR attend Clinical Governance training

Monday 22 February 2016

The Great Western Air Ambulance Charity invited three members of WILSAR along to their SAR themed Clinical Governance Training Day at their base in Filton today.

12717851_10156488495195537_3680037097021424773_nWe enjoyed a presentation from the GWAA’s Critical Care Team with several case studies and another discussion about a very technical Cave Rescue in the Mendips. While we shivered in a cold hangar we also received a very relevant talk about hypothermia! The highlight was a visit and introduction to the new Coastguard A139 helicopter from St Athan that became operational in October 2015 to replace the RAF Search and Rescue service. This was preceded by a presentation from the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) on the change from military to civilian and the move of the ARCC from RAF Kinloss to the National Maritime Operations Centre in Fareham.

As well as medical professionals from Great Western Air Ambulance Service, South Western Ambulance Service Trust and Wiltshire Air Ambulance the training day was also attended by members from Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue    and RNLI to name a few. The day helped representatives from multiple agencies to get to know a little about each other and to discuss how better to work alongside each other.


Carl’s Blog part 3 – No Excuses!

12 Feb 2016 – Week 3, Call out Training, No excuses please – REPLY!!

So I’m into week three of my goal to become a trained Lowland Search Technician and a rung further on the ladder to becoming an operational member of WILSAR.

This week has seen quite a bit of progress in that I have managed to secure a place on the Lowland Search Technician Course (UKLSI LST) in March and have completed the second core subject required to become operational.

Aside from my normal day to day tribulations at work I have become used to the idea that I will be going off to do something different and learning new skills on a weekly basis, so much so that on Wednesday evening I sat with my kit on at 1845hrs waiting for the text message informing me of the RV and timings for this evening’s training (we had already received it by email).  It was slightly embarrassing when my wife pointed out that the training was on Thursday and she had wondered where I was off to!! (We have all got up for work on a day off before haven’t we?? Or is that just me?)

Again, we RV’d at the normal meeting place and stood around waiting for the other trainees to arrive (something you become accustomed to after a 22 year career in the Army) before assembling in the classroom ready for the evening’s training. After some initial problems with IT set up we cracked on with our next core subject which was WILSAR’s call out procedure.


I’m with WILSAR will not cut it with the local constabulary!!

Gail, the WILSAR Chair, took the lesson and explained all of the protocol and procedures that are adopted by WILSAR when being called out.  Images of blasting around the lanes of Wiltshire with blue lights plugged into cigarette lighter sockets were quickly extinguished as we learned that advanced driving techniques would not be required and that we were to (quite rightly) adhere to all UK road laws during deployment.

Although the call out procedure is quite straight forward (a text message with all of the relevant information on) there was a huge emphasis placed on EMERGENCY and the fact that when being called out someone’s life may be at risk which really brings home why so many people have volunteered to become a part of the team.

It is also worth adding that no one is under any obligation to attend every single callout as WILSAR fully recognise that people have other priorities and Jobs that pay the way. So instead of “Sorry my uncle Dennis’s cat has died but I’ll be able to attend once I’ve washed my underpants and put some boiled eggs on the stove” a text with YES or NO will suffice which keeps it nice and simple and allows the search managers to plan quickly and effectively, minimising the risk to the missing person (MisPer).

After a quick break we were introduced to the Team’s policy with regards to Professional Development and Progression, Colin (WILSAR’s Training Officer) explained that all WILSAR members will be invested in to progress and further enhance their skills; it seems that if you have the will and the desire they will give you the tools to become qualified and competent, whether that be to become a Team Leader or to specialise in one of the other areas that the team operate, they are ideally placed to assist.

All in all a very positive week, next up is Vehicle and RV set up which sort of marks the half-way point in the new member training. Finally if anyone needs a lift to the UKLSI course in March just let me know at the next meeting, I have space for three in my car, now I’m off home to play on my son’s PlayStation and get the fast driving thing out of my system!

Catch up soon… Carl.

See the rest of the story so far:


2016-04 Callout to assist DORSAR

12 February 2016  |  Latest callouts, News

Friday 12th February 2016

Called out at 17:00 to assist Dorset Search and Rescue to search for a missing man in Dorchester. Assisting Team stood down again at 17:40.

We regularly assist and request assistance from our neighbouring teams; training and operating to the same ALSAR standards makes this possible with the greatest efficiency.

Thanks and best wishes to all Teams around the country but especially Oxfordsdhire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset Lowland Search and Rescue and Dog Teams.

Carl’s Blog part 2 – Medical training, tea and cake!

Carl’s Blog continues…

3 Feb 2016 – New Member Medical Training

Adrian Sawyer’s watchful eye

As a new member of WILSAR and a prospective trainee we have to complete five different “core” subjects before we can then be loaded onto the residential search technician course.  The first of which saw us RV at the Wiltshire police HQ on Wednesday evening to conduct some initial medical training under the watchful eye of WILSAR’s medical lead Adrian Sawyer.

On arrival I was pleasantly surprised at the number of new members that had turned up for the evening. Apparently this was the largest group of new members the WILSAR team had seen for some time and had nothing to do with the malicious rumour that there would be free tea and cake at some point.

So, before starting Adrian gave us the opportunity to introduce ourselves and what we do for a living as well as what previous medical experience we actually have, he also threw in the curve ball of adding “something interesting about yourself”.

As I sat their trying (and failing) to think of something interesting about myself it became apparent that the range of jobs and qualifications the assembled class brought to the party was vast, from boxers to race car technicians to fire arms officers to nurses everyone had something different to offer and all but a few had done some kind of medical training in the past, albeit to varying degrees.

The brief started with some of the policy and the guidelines that WILSAR operate within when it comes to medical training and the fact that all of the training they conduct is geared toward a national standard which allows SAR teams and emergency services from different regions to work together in the event of a large scale incident.

Yes, tied up!

The MIBS stretcher

It was then time to get our hands on some of the equipment and after some initial reluctance there were plenty of volunteers to be tied up (yes tied up) using the MIBS stretcher and the other equipment available before moving outside for a demonstration from an operational team bringing together all of the things that we had been shown.

The whole evening had gone very quickly and there is plenty to take in, the fact it was just after 10pm was irrelevant as the training and demonstration had been first class. Just enough time for questions and a quick wash up and we were released. After waiting round for a further 10 minutes the tea and cake still didn’t materialise so I decided to go home.

Unfortunately I won’t be attending the Bank Search Training at the weekend but I’m looking forward to the next core subject and climbing a further rung towards becoming an operational member of the team.  Just time for a quick apology for some inaccuracies (and typos) in last week’s blog where I referred to my night search team leader as “Susan”, it always takes me a while to remember everyone’s name. Sorry Sandra, I will get the drinks in on the next social!!


See the rest of the story so far:


2016-03 Callout Swindon

Thursday 4th February 2016

Team called out at 22:00 to search for a missing elderly lady with dementia.

Female located and Team stood down at 23:30.

Wessex Model & Toy Collectors donate

4 February 2016  |  News  |  , , , ,

This week WILSAR were thrilled to receive a £1000 cheque from the Wessex Model and Toy Collectors Club. The cheque was presented to WILSAR Team Leader, Terry Thomas, by outgoing WMTC Chairman, Doug Male. WILSAR were lucky enough to be selected by the group as one of their chosen charities for the year along with a local children’s hospice. This essential donation will be used to update emergency medical equipment for the Team.

Terry WMTC cheque

Carl’s blog – A year in the life of a WILSAR trainee

Carl LoughneyName: Carl Loughney

Age: 39

Job: Warrant Officer (Army)


A year in the life of a WILSAR Trainee

So I have made the plunge, I have finally decided to get off my backside and do something worthwhile for the community!  Over the next few months I will be writing updates on my progress as a trainee search technician with Wiltshire Search and Rescue (WILSAR).

You would be right to think that a serving Warrant Officer that has been in the Army for nearly twenty years would have had enough of the outdoors to last him a lifetime?  As a soldier I have been extremely fortunate to have had a very long and fulfilling career, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end!!

So It was with the fear of finding myself at the end of a desk 9-5, Monday – Friday which made me look elsewhere for fulfilment and the idea of volunteering was posed by my wife (Thanks Stacey!) as a way of using my spare time constructively and giving something back to the community (although I suspect that she was tactfully trying to get me out of the house).

After looking at some options (St John’s ambulance etc.) I finally decided that I liked the look of the Lowland Search and Rescue and decided to email the Membership Officer and get a feel for what it was all about. After a very swift response I was awaiting the recruitment evening with anticipation.

Recruitment evening

On arrival (slightly late I might add).  The first thing that struck me was how professional everyone was, from  the people outside arranging parking to the setup of the hall everything seemed very well organised and almost “military”.  It was no surprise then to learn that WILSAR have a large number of serving and ex serving members of the Armed Forces amongst their ranks (Pardon the pun).

The next pleasant surprise was that a number of the skills and qualifications needed to be a search technician are routinely taught in the military and although not necessarily transferable offer a good start point for someone like myself who has spent a whole career using communication systems, medical procedures and search techniques.

The evening was very informative and gave a great insight into what might be expected of a trainee search technician as well as what can be offered in return, of the fifty people that turned up for the evening some 30 people expressed further interest.  The operational members of the team were excellent in answering questions and showing us around all of the equipment.

The thought of searching for venerable persons who may be lost, cold and scared certainly struck a chord and as a father I am grateful that such an organisation exists, we are extremely fortunate, where do I sign?

Night Skills Training – 24 Jan 16

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the round robin skills day on the 17th Jan but from what I’ve heard it was a very useful day, especially for those that have not done any type of outside navigation using a map and compass.

The night search skills operational training began with the normal call out procedure, i.e. a text message containing the information required and the RV. We are then required to reply to the text in a standard format that is used for callouts. I have been assigned the Call sign Tango 01 (Trainee 01) for the period of my training.

We met up at the RV which as normal was being controlled by one of the Operational Team Members and after parking the car I proceeded to sign in at the rear of the Control Vehicle before being issued with a high vis vest.

Whilst waiting for the others to arrive I got chatting to some of the other trainee members and what became apparent was the spread of different people who have volunteered to train, this theme also runs throughout the operational members who range from paramedics to retired writers all willing to give up their spare time.

So after a bit of milling around (which I’m told is normal). We were divided up into teams and given the exercise scenario which was going to be used for the evening. We then mounted up in our vehicles and drove to the drop off point just North of Devizes, each team was given a team leader and we set of on a Hasty “Route and Path” searching for the missing person.

Susan took us down the path and described some of the search techniques used when looking for missing persons and the importance of looking for anything out of the ordinary as the method of searching using the “box” method.

What struck me was the reality of the scenario; it could easily have been a real live missing person out there.  Just as we came to the end of a track and into a small copse, Penny (one of the trainee members) found one of the simulated missing persons that had been laid out for us to try and find.

It really was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and although the search was hampered later on by some pretty awful weather everyone had found the exercise beneficial not least to identify any shortfalls in clothing and kit – next on the shopping list, Gaiters and spare shoes for after the search!!