Insights from a Bucks Search Tech Episode 6

Episode 6 – ‘That impactful moment…’

‘…might not be what you were expecting!’

It certainly wasn’t what some of us were expecting.  As this series has progressed, more and more of the team are sharing their experiences, and it has proven to be quite thought provoking. When we started this journey of ‘Insights’, we pencilled in the ‘Impactful Moment’ as the final episode.  It seems that we all thought it might touch on the moment we find a missing person, but nobody said it out loud.  We know that this is an impactful moment, but it didn’t seem right to express it in this form, it is managed slightly differently by each person.  However, over the weeks, with the activities and experiences we have been through and the process of thinking about what impacts us, we have come to realise that the impactful moments we experience can sometimes be things we didn’t expect to be impactful.  So not wanting to disappoint you, this episode uncovers the ‘other’ impactful moments, that we didn’t even realise would happen.

As a Search Tech you train, you learn, you prepare, you go on auto-pilot and into operational process when needed.  So everything is going to plan, and then, WOW! Something happens that you just didn’t expect.  We’ve seen it can be good or bad, it doesn’t have to be significant or dramatic, it can be something quite small, but by virtue of it’s unexpected nature it can be impactful. It’s something that leaves an impression on you, it can come from any of your senses, so a feeling, a sound or a sight.

When you are not as ready as you think!…  

As Search Techs we carry kit, lots of kit, in lots of pockets and pouches. We have specialised kit for different searches. We plan and prepare to be self-sufficient for an 8hour shift and are trained to cope with the elements. It can be something seemingly quite simple, as not being able to locate a torch, spare batteries, the line cutter when it’s needed that can throw you off balance. Being in a location dealing with a situation and having your supplies elsewhere. It’s believing you are ready, and then getting caught out.  We learn from these types of experiences, on every call-out and every training session, and we spend our time adapting our kit to make us more efficient and comfortable in knowing that we are ready.

When you look, but don’t expect to find…

So it’s 3am, you’ve just finished searching a cemetery and you’ve moved into the woods.  It’s pitch black, you’re crouching down peering into a dark hedge with your torch full blast only to have 3 pairs of eyes staring back at you.  Now that’s impactful. Even though you’re looking, you don’t expect to see.  They were foxes thankfully, but that experience leaves an impression.

When your impacted by realising how lucky you are to be part of a team…

It’s in challenging times we rely on the strength of the team and this has been flagged as another impactful moment, when you realise that you are surrounded by a group of people who have your back and are there to support you.  For some this realisation of how well the team works is really impactful, and had lasting and positive consequences. It makes us stronger as a unit.

When what you do makes an impact…

For others it’s the realisation that every time we go out we make an impact, it’s the realisation of the value we bring.  On a personal element that’s impactful.  It can change a person’s view of themselves and give them self-worth and confidence.

We hope that this series of ‘Insights from a Bucks Search Tech’ may have helped you to understand a bit more about who we are, what we do and why.  It has certainly helped some of us to express our thoughts and feelings and understand them a bit more.  If you take nothing else from them, please appreciate that in Buckinghamshire, as in every county, there is a team of volunteers on call 24×7, ready to respond to assist the police in the search for a missing person and reunite them with their loved ones. We do what we can with the resources we have.  As with any charity we only remain operational with the amazing support, grants and donations we get from the public, so we thank you for that.

Signing off for now, knowing we’ve made an impact, your Bucks Search & Rescue Team.

Insights from a Bucks Search Tech Episode 5

Episode 5‘You’re qualified as a Search Technician, so what’s next?’    

Having made it through the basic training and become operational, were we ready for more? Well after a few months apparently so.  For some of us our professional day jobs led us to the area of specialisation, for others it was areas that had sparked interest, for some it was when they asked people to step forward to volunteer they just didn’t step back quick enough.

As a new recruit I remember the 1st navigation training session, thankfully it was theory, in our HQ so I wasn’t going to get too lost.  But to have a compass and a map and try and make something of them both, it was going to be a challenge to say the least.  A couple of hours in and I still couldn’t work out why or how these 2 things worked together.  After weeks of practice, hours of walking, staring at maps, learning OS symbols, turning compass bezels round and round until they made sense, taking bearings and using tech tools to confirm your thinking, it finally all started to make sense. But this was still basic navigation at Bronze level.  The learning that you are never lost, you just might not be where you thought you were was comforting.  Now with a map and compass at least I could work out where I actually was and start from there. I hadn’t quite appreciated that the navigation role in a Search and Rescue team was as key as it was.  I had imagined the nav person got the team to an area, kept an eye on the tracks and got them back. The reality is that the team need to rely ‘nav’ to record the searches, points of interest, give coordinates and plan routes in and out for support teams and emergency services when required.  So to have the confidence to take on that responsibility on a search does give you a massive sense of achievement.  10 months on from that 1st nav session a group of us went off and got our NNAS Silver Navigation Award. We didn’t get lost that’s for sure.  We did however get swamped in mud in the process, but we came out the other side with more confidence in our advanced navigation skills.

Navigation is just one example, for others in the team it’s advanced medical training as Lowland Rescue First Responders, or Team Leaders, Drone Pilots, Boat or Water safety crew.

Does it stop there? Not a chance, once we become proficient in our new skills we will continue to learn. The time and effort put in by every volunteer to extend their knowledge and skillset results in the team being able to expand it’s capabilities.

In this way we can make sure that as your Bucks Search and Rescue team we are always ready to respond with the right level of resources and skills, as quick as possible to help in the search for a missing vulnerable person.