Insights from a Bucks Search Tech Episode 2

Episode 2 – ‘What I’ve learnt and achieved since Joining Search and Rescue’

You can learn to do anything, your level of achievement however is down to 3 elements, effort, skill and courage.

Effort – It really is up to you.  You only get out of it what you put into it.

Skill – I could list out all the skills that I’ve learnt in my time in Search and Rescue, and it’s a long list.  It includes things that to be honest I never thought I would ever master when I first joined, like using a compass and map, the radio comms, helming a rib. We learnt ‘Lost Person Behaviour’, what I have learnt since is that our missing people haven’t read the book, they don’t all stick to script, so you have to be prepared for anything.

Skill development comes from practice, honing those skills over, and over again until they become the natural reaction in any situation. This routine is what we then default to in stressful times.  It also inspires self-control and fosters confidence within us.

Search and Rescue gives you far more than just the opportunity to learn new skills. It gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself and your emotional awareness. It taught me that it was okay to step out of my comfort zone, to challenge my courage.

Courage – Shortly after joining I had an opportunity to be a missing person ‘MISPER’ in a search exercise. Being alone in the woods for just over 90 mins, how hard could it be?  After 30mins I felt lost, my confidence left me, after a while things started to spiral out of control. I came out of the woods shivering.  At the time I believed I was just cold. It was not until afterwards I realised it was fear.  I was petrified in there. It was at this point I learnt to have the courage to face my fear and make the decision to overcome it. I realise for some this is not easy. I had locked it away in the back of my mind for years, almost in denial. The difference now was the realisation that I had a choice; with new skills I had more confidence; with the right support I had an element of comfort in doing something about it.  My fear was ‘the woods’, you’d have to question my judgement in joining a Search and Rescue team, or was this what drove me to join? I am now totally comfortable in this environment, for me this is a massive achievement.

I’ve learnt to ditch the guilt and put myself first. Only if I am at my best can I then help others. Through experience I’ve learnt what works for me and what doesn’t.  The more prepared and organised I am, less stress I have running out the door and the more I can concentrate on the job in hand.  Through practice and repetition, we can learn discipline, regime or routine, I now have a routine in place after a call out.  After that coffee when I get in, whatever time of the day or night, I make sure I prep my kit ready to go back out again.

I’ve learnt to reassess my sense of failure. Early on if I had been on a search and completed my area with no find, I felt I had failed. Truth is the value that this brought to the team was to confirm that the missing person was not in that area, and therefore they could eliminate it, and narrow down the areas of focus. I have also learnt that it is okay to ask for advice or help, and to accept that the diversity of the team is actually one of it’s strengths.

And finally, I’ve learnt to:

  • Trust my judgement
  • Take actions when they matter most
  • Don’t get lost if it all goes wrong
  • Talk to people about your feelings and emotions
  • Do something rather than nothing
  • Believe I can make a difference


A HUGE thank you to all in Search and Rescue for providing these opportunities and being so supportive as we learn to get through them.

Bucks Search and Rescue