The short answer is "No!"
While it is useful to have experience of some of the skills already like sending messages via a radio or navigating with a map and compass, we'd like to stress that it's not essential. Our training programme is designed to take someone with no previous qualifications and, with a good level of commitment, turn them into Search Technicians who are confident and competent in all the basic skills. Recognition of prior learning will be considered for some subjects, for example medical and water rescue.
While some of our team members are serving or ex-emergency services or military, the vast majority are school teachers, plumbers, farm workers, university students and dozens of other professions. What we're really looking for are excellent team players who are motivated, energetic and eager to learn, and have plenty of time to be available for callouts, training and supporting the Charity with fundraising. No-one should be put off applying because they've not done anything similar before... you might still be exactly the type of person who will fit into our Team really well!
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 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 and restricted information.
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.
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 chooses the times they are on-call, and can change their status at a moment’s notice; we understand that work and family commitments should come first.
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.
We accept trainees from 18 years old (on day 1 of the training programme), 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, with a stretcher carry at the end. Non-operational members in a support role such as fundraising are not required to complete a proof of fitness walk.
To drive a team vehicle, you must be 25 years old. Members over 75 have a reduced level of Personal Accident Insurance coverage
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 17:00. Exercises to test the skills learned can be anywhere in Wiltshire.
Occasionally there is the opportunity to train with other SAR teams in neighbouring counties.
A Search Technician (ST) aims to find a missing or vulnerable person as rapidly as possible, 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, which means neighbouring teams can work seamlessly together.
Search Technicians have the responsibility of arriving at a callout prepared 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 follow instructions accurately 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.
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, vehicle or equipment maintenance, communication or fundraising, then we’d love to hear from you if you have time to volunteer in a support role.
We already have a number of Healthcare Professionals who occasionally help with the training and assessment of our medics. We'd be keen to hear from anyone who thinks they have a qualification or experience teaching any of the skills we need and can assist our Training Leads.
There is a volunteer agreement that we ask everyone to sign, but is not an employment contract. It sets out what is expected and how Wiltshire Search and Rescue will support you.
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.
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, but 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 for food and accommodation.
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The "Lowland Rescue" mark is a trademark, and "From Hill to High Water" is a registered trademark of the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue and are used under licence.
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We collect your name, email address and any message that you send us.
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