Insights from a Bucks Search Tech Episode 3

Episode 3 – ‘What I didn’t realise when I Joined Bucks Search and Rescue’

Was it that I hadn’t realised, or maybe it had never even crossed my mind, but some of these things really came as a shock, and in speaking to the team I wasn’t alone.

I hadn’t realised …

How many other people hadn’t heard of Search & Rescue. Now when I tell people about Lowland Rescue, and our Search & Rescue team I start the conversation with…”So you’ve heard of Mountain Rescue? You’ve heard of RNLI?  Well we cover that big bit in between them. We cover from hill to high water, we are Lowland Rescue.”

The difference between us and Mountain Rescue. Well apart from the obvious, I know we are a little limited for mountains in Buckinghamshire, but in comparing us to these other groups that are more well known by the public, if you think about why and how we operate, we are significantly different.  Generally Mountain Rescue teams are called out for lost or injured people who don’t intend to get into difficulty. They spend less time searching, but are involved in more complex rescues and extractions.  Lowland Rescue on the other hand are called in to search for missing vulnerable people who, in some cases, either don’t want to be found or, don’t even realise they are lost. Sometimes it feels like a game of hide and seek.

There was a search methodology, a set of processes and search techniques to learn.  These are the things that make the difference in sending in experienced Search Technicians rather than members of the public. This is what makes us efficient and effective. We don’t get an exact point to find  missing people, we may get the last known place they were seen. Search & Rescue Teams use a proven methodology to plan and run searches that places the teams in the most probable area, to make a find in the quickest time possible. I hadn’t realised it would be so hard to find our missing people sometimes.

How much of area we cover.  My discovery since joining is that Buckinghamshire is a long county. It takes over an hour, without traffic to travel from south to north. Like all Search & Rescue teams we also assist our neighbouring teams.  Our neighbours include: Berkshire, Oxfordshire, London, Northamptonshire, and our Mid-shires team covering Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. That’s a lot of ground to cover, a long way to travel even before your search begins.

How many call-outs there would be.  I hadn’t known, understood or appreciated just how many people go missing, and for what reasons. I had not been exposed to the extent of, or volume of individuals impacted by mental health issues.  In 2019 our team dealt with over 80 calls and spent in excess of 1500 hours actively searching.

How important closure is for families. I have always heard about “closure”, but it is only now I know the true value of this word.  I now realise how much comfort this can bring even in the darkest hours.

What I also hadn’t realised was that working with a team of individuals in a volunteer group, you get people doing what they do, for the right reasons.  They are not in it for themselves. They are not in it for any financial rewards. They are not all searchers, some play important ‘back office’ roles. They are in it to serve their communities and help others in need, and in return get a massive amount of satisfaction to know they have made a difference. They are your Bucks Search and Rescue Team.