Last night, Wednesday 23 March 2016, Wiltshire Search and Rescue held its Annual General Meeting at Wiltshire Police Headquarters in Devizes. The new Management Committee were elected and voted in, most notably our new Chairman, Paul Moore, who replaces Gail Leaman after three and a half years of servivce in the post.
“I have been working with WILSAR since the start of 2016 and have been really taken by the professionalism of the team. I currently work as a civil servant and decided to join WILSAR to learn a new set of skills to help save lives in the local community. I have been a fan of the great outdoors for many years and Search and Rescue work is another great excuse to get out and enjoy the Wiltshire countryside.
“I have a strong work ethic of being fair, impartial and objective, even when the circumstances are stressful and difficult. I am prepared to go above and beyond what is expected of me to ensure that WILSAR delivers its mission, to save lives. I share the enthusiasm of the rest of the Management Committee to continue moving WILSAR forward in the right direction, building on its success to date and increasing our capabilities and response to incidents.”
The new Managment Committe have been elected as follows:
Chairman Paul Moore
Secretary Charles Gerty
Treasurer Bradley Hill (Re-elected)
Medical Adrian Sawyer (Re-elected)
Equipment Paul Biggin (Re-elected)
Vehicles Sandra Penfold (Re-elected)
Membership Cris Wiles
ALSAR/SWERA Matt Croft
PR Matt Flynn
Fundraising Jon Reeves
Non Portfolio Colin Barksby
Water Lead Nick Jarvis
Training Brian Hall
Thanks to all those standing down for your service and welcome and good luck to the new Committee.
Friday 18th March 2016
Called for assistance by Oxfordshire Search and Rescue at 01:00 to search for a missing vulnerable male in the Faringdon area. Assist team stood down at 01:55.
Thursday 17th March 2016 – Nearly there…
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited on a training exercise, closely followed by our last initial training subject and completion of the UKLSI Lowland Search Technician course all in quick succession; it’s been a busy couple of weeks!
Exercise IRON MAN was a multi-agency exercise led by WILSAR and took place in Swindon’s Lydiard Park. From a personal perspective the exercise was really interesting and demonstrated the cohesion of the search team in a challenging environment. The fact that the team was tasked with locating a live MisPer and the park was full of people enjoying a Sunday (Mothers’ Day) stroll made the exercise all the more realistic.
The Exercise gave the Team the opportunity to deploy all of the equipment available to them and once all of the briefs had taken place I followed a search team out to take some photos and observe what was going on. The scenario was that a 10 year old boy had gone missing after a disagreement with his parents and was last seen on his bike in the park, the teams were split up and given their search sectors whilst the specialist teams (bike and bank search) deployed into their respective areas.
The scenario developed throughout the afternoon and involved extraction of simulated casualties from water as well as the successful recovery of the MisPer. On completion the kit was cleaned and packed away followed by a quick debrief and team photo before everyone got away to enjoy the rest of the day with their families (and apologise/grovel to the mothers and wives that had been neglected!!)
So many people giving up their free time just highlights the selfless way that the Team and the emergency services go about their business. Training for such eventualities is clearly vital, not only to confirm current procedures but also to identify areas for improvement as every professional organisation should . The feedback from the emergency services was that it was a huge success, I certainly enjoyed it and it provided a great insight into what I should expect on my first live callout.
After a week back at work and the midweek training session I travelled with Matt Croft, Damon Saddler (two other WILSAR Trainees) to the Frank Chapman outdoor centre in Worcester to start the LST course. On arrival we signed in and found our beds before being told that the chef would be late due to traffic congestion so we foraged into town in search of food. A Wetherspoon’s burger later we returned to find that the majority of the course had assembled and were waiting to start.
The weekend consisted of some classroom work and a number of outdoor demonstrations/exercises designed to teach, assess and confirm our new skills as well as those of the newly qualified Team Leaders. We also received our team uniform and equipment which made me feel a little more integrated into the team but saw a certain member getting a bit of a complex, I won’t mention any names but there’s no point in crying when your hi-vis doesn’t fit, maybe lay off the biscuits?!
The exercises took place on the training area across varying terrain both by day and night looking for live MisPers played by the UKLSI staff. The exercises were centrally controlled to enable the teams to assist each other as and when the situation changed, this normally meant trying to catch a MisPer that didn’t want to be caught – cue the Benny Hill music!!
At the end of each training day we were given the opportunity to network with other Search Teams as well as find out a little bit more about the other new members of our team. We were also treated to the magical phenomenon of Adrian “Dynamo” Smith performing his card tricks over a couple of sociable drinks. As you can guess the snoring that night in the dorm rooms was horrendous and sounded like a mixture of Norfolk pig farm, Darth Vader and chainsaw!
After a rubbish night’s sleep we were up early to complete the assessment exercise which lasted most of the morning. After ENDEX we were given feedback and sent on our merry way and although feeling a little tired when I got home I think I speak for all of the trainees when I say it was a great weekend. The instruction and administration was first rate, there was plenty to learn (and eat) but the balance was struck just right. I am now confident that I would be able to contribute effectively as a searcher if called out on a live search and be an asset to the team. I just need to remember it’s the “Northumbrian Rain dance” and not the “Cumbrian River Dance”!?
So we’re nearly there, I’m now just waiting to refresh my medical skills and police vetting (a WILSAR requirement) in the next couple of weeks to become operational. Obviously I would much prefer if people didn’t go missing but hopefully by the time my next blog hits the pages I will have been out to assist the team in an active search.
Search is an Emergency, Be professional, Searcher Cube, Searcher Cube, Searcher Cube!!
All the best and happy Easter!
The story so far: http://wilsar.org.uk/?s=carl+blog
Tuesday 8th March 2016 – Wet and windy Wiltshire!!
So the past couple of weeks have been fairly quiet on the WILSAR front and training has taken a bit of a back seat to half term holidays, trips to London and rain, lots of rain, especially on Salisbury Plain!
Because of the lack of activity I have mainly been keeping myself busy at work (yes I do have a job!) and trying to avoid the soul destroying political debates on the radio. Am I the only one that found myself hunting round in the garage for old CDs (remember those) to listen to on the way to work? I’ll take Enya over the EU referendum and Donald Trump’s hairpiece any day….
Following the break there has been a bit of progress on the training front and this week we have taken part in Vehicle and RV set up and also completed our 5 mile fitness assessment, the latter taking place on Wednesday evening in the hills above Calne. I must add at this point that I’m not often found hanging around in country car parks after dark but there is a first time for everything!?
Arriving quite early on the car park soon filled up and after checking in and listening to a safety brief by Adrian (Smithy) Smith we were off into the darkness. After such a long time serving in the military you become accustomed to doing things in the dark without light, especially when you are in a tactical situation so despite suppressing the urge to tell people to turn their torches off we settled into a nice strolling pace around the Wiltshire countryside.
The pace was fairly steady but needed to be as the recent rainfall meant that the risk of ending up on your backside was rather high especially when descending down steep chalk paths. The pace is also set to replicate the pace that you would be walking at if conducting a live search and strikes a balance between quick enough to minimise the risk to the MisPer but slow enough to ensure a thorough search is carried out.
The five mile course is to be completed in 2 hours or less and must be completed twice a year for WILSAR members to remain operational, the terrain is a mixture of open fields and short steep ascents/descents and meant to replicate the typical ground you would be expected to cover in the event of a call out.
Luckily the rain held off and the chat and banter that was flying around amongst the trainees meant that the two hours passed fairly quickly. Before we knew it we were back in the car park and following the obligatory debrief we signed out and were on our way home.
We only have one more core subject to cover before attending the UKLSI Search Technician course which means that we are one step closer to becoming operational and earning a coveted “Red Jacket.” My mother always said I would be a red coat, I’m not sure this is what she meant?!
Not WILSAR related but I enjoyed a trip to the Natural History Museum during the half term holidays (giant scorpion not to scale.)
See the rest of Carl’s blogs: http://wilsar.org.uk/?s=carl+blog
Saturday 5th March 2016
Called out to assist Oxfordshire Search and Rescue in the search for a missing vulnerable male in the Wallingford area.
Wiltshire Search and Rescue are proud to announce Exercise Ironman.
Months of planning have gone into organising this multi agency, high risk missing person search scenario. Its purpose is to ensure in the event of a large missing person search in Wiltshire, the organisations involved can coordinate with each other in a rapidly changing situation. The exercise will also increase each organisation’s knowledge & understanding of one another’s capabilities.
Examples of this kind of missing person search include:
Sian O’Callaghan Swindon, 2011
April Jones Powys, 2012
Tom Edwards Chippenham, 2013
Mikaeel Kular Edinburgh, 2014
WILSAR (approx 30 members)
Fire & Rescue Service – attending with Technical Rescue team and vehicles from multiple stations.
Ambulance Service – specialist vehicle from Bristol.
Local Authority- Incident Officers attending.
Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue (BLSAR)
Hampshire Search and Rescue (HANTSAR)
Surrey Search and Rescue (SURSAR) – attending with a 4×4 and RPAS air support.
Dorset Search and Rescue (DORSAR) – Sending an Observer.
The exercise will start at 09:00 in South Swindon beginning with Police Enquiries and WILSAR being requested approximately 30 minutes later. It is expected to be finished by 14:00 (depending on how quickly the missing person is located!)