NEW! Blogging about becoming a search technician

13 June 2019  |  News

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

Wiltshire Search and Rescue red jacket

Wiltshire Search and Rescue Operational team on a search exercise

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

 


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