DSRT Tavistock - 2017 Callouts.

2nd January (1) The Ambulance service called at 16.27 requesting us to assist a Heli-med crew and paramedics with an incident at Leather Tor, above Burrator reservoir. An unconscious 59 year old male who had fallen from the Tor had been found by passing walkers. He had sustained head injury, had a tension pneumothorax and possible pelvic fracture. As he required urgent evacuation to hospital the paramedics and members of the public moved him to the helicopter as our first members arrived at the casualty site.

4th January (2) The Police requested our help with a search for a high risk 76 year old male who had been missing from his home in Bideford since 1st Jan. An extensive search had already been carried out since then by our colleagues from Exmoor and Okehampton SRT’s. New sightings had been reported of the subject in and near Shebbear, so members of DSRT Tavistock and Okehampton deployed to search this area. The Teams stood down as darkness approached, with a view to resuming the next day.

15th Jan (3) The Police called at 14.23 for assistance with a search at Burrator Reservoir for a 31 year old male, deemed to be at high risk and possibly suicidal. He had been missing from Plympton since Thursday but today his bicycle, notes and some clothing were found at Burrator Reservoir. We called in the assistance of DSRT Plymouth, and members of both Teams’ specially trained and equipped water units searched an extensive length of the shoreline of the reservoir. Other members, including a Search dog team, searched the forestry plantations along the South and Eastern sides of the reservoir. Concurrently the Police underwater search team carried out a diving search in the reservoir itself. Once darkness fell the operation was suspended, to be continued in daylight.

(Postscript: The body of the missing man was located in Burrator Reservoir by Police divers on Wednesday 18th January. Our thoughts are with the relatives at this sad time).

26th January (4) We were called by the Police at 18.19 to search for two walkers and their dog lost in darkness on the Moor. We were told that they had started out from Postbridge, following a route in a guidebook and using a mobile phone to navigate. They had no torch and when darkness fell they realised they were lost. Using our SARLOC technology we determined them to be at Crow Tor, north of Two Bridges. A hasty walking team was deployed from Holming Beam and located the cold, tired, but uninjured walkers at the Tor. They were escorted back to our vehicles and the Police then transported them to Postbridge.

This incident is yet another example of walkers relying on phone apps and then becoming misplaced or disorientated. Always take a map, compass and torch when venturing into remote locations.

2nd February (5) At 01.30 we were called by the Police to assist in a search for a 55 year old male who was deemed to be at high risk. He was last seen in the Roborough area around midday on Wednesday and was in a despondent state. The Police believed him to be in the Burrator area. Due to the assessed risk of searching in darkness in woodland during very high winds it was agreed that our search would begin in the morning. Members of our Team and members of DSRT Plymouth carried out extensive searches of woodland around the reservoir until 16.00, when we stood down for the day. Police enquiries are continuing. (Postscript: Subject located later in the day in Plymouth, unharmed).

20th February (6) We were called at 15.50 by our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton to assist in a search in and around Chulmleigh. A 59 year old male who was deemed to be at high risk had abandoned his vehicle nearby in the early morning and had not been located. It was a multi-agency operation including DSRT Tavistock, DSRT Okehampton, DSRT Ashburton, SARDA search dogs,Exmoor SRT, members of USAR and the Police. After a ten hour extensive search,of woodland and farmland, we were stood down. Shortly afterwards the subject was located, outside of our search area, wet and cold but otherwise unharmed.

1st March (7) Our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton called us at 11.55 to assist in a search in N Devon for a 26 yr old female believed to be at high risk. She had not been seen for several days and her car had been located at Woolacombe on the Esplanade. An extensive search, involving DSRT Okehampton, DSRT Tavistock, Exmoor SRT, Police, HM Coastguard and some USAR personnel, was carried out until stood down as darkness fell. Police enquiries are continuing.

8th March (8) The Police called at 22.28 regarding a high risk male missing from Plymouth, who was believed to be in the Burrator area. The Team was put on Standby, but before deployment we were stood down as the subject had been located by the Police, in Plymstock.

18th March (9) We were called by the Police at 16.41 to give advice regarding three adult walkers who were lost on the Moor. We were informed that they were walking from Ivybridge to Princetown but had become disorientated in thick mist and low cloud. They thought they were near Winney’s Down on the north moor. Sarloc was attempted with no response, but eventually contact was made by mobile phone. They had in fact been walking from Okehampton to Princetown and were not far off their intended route. It was agreed they would walk south and follow the E Dart to Postbridge. They were collected from Postbridge and transported to accommodation in Princetown.

29th March (10) Our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton called us at 02.30 to assist them in a search at Hatherleigh. A female deemed to be at high risk had been missing for several hours in inclement weather. As our members were setting off to the rendezvous point we were stood down, as fortunately the subject had been located safe and well.

2nd April (11) We were called by the Police at 12.25 to assist with a 52 year old lady who had fallen on the southern slopes of Leather Tor. She had sustained an injury to her lower left leg and had been unconscious at one time. As members were en route to the incident we received another call for assistance ( see below). The subject was treated, splinted and given pain relief before being stretchered over rough ground, reaching the public highway at 13.26 . She was then transferred to the care of Ambulance personnel.

2nd April (12) A further call was received at 12.45 requesting assistance with a 24 year old lady, who had fallen from rocks near Combshead Tor. She was believed to have sustained a fractured leg. Some personnel responding to the previous incident were diverted to go to this casualty site, but as leaving from Norsworthy Bridge car park were informed that the Air Ambulance had landed and was preparing to take the subject to Derriford Hospital.

As both incidents were closed members were stood down just before 14.00 .

30th April At 10.59 we were contacted by Police regarding a missing 35 year old male. Discussions took place regarding deployment and it was agreed we should be on standby to assist in a search around Burrator if further information was received.

7th May (13) The Ambulance service requested our assistance at 17.53 . A 39 year old male had fallen while walking along the canal towpath about a kilometre from the main road and had severe pain in his back. There was a rapid response from team members who had only just got home from a tiring weekend on Dartmoor, providing safety cover for the Ten Tors event. As the location of the incident was difficult to access from the road we deployed with our wheeled stretcher as well as rope access kit. After pain relief had been administered the casualty was placed in a vacuum mattress and stretchered to the Ambulance waiting at the roadside.

10th June (14) We were called at 16.28 to assist the ambulance service with an incident on Wapsworthy Common, where a 16 year old girl was unwell and could walk no further. We deployed from Baggator Gate in rain and very poor visibility, which was down to 20 metres at times. We located the subject sheltering in a tent with another 16 year old female. Following assessment of their condition by a team doctor one was transported by stretcher and the other walking, escorted by team members, back to an ambulance at Baggator Gate. During the evacuation we were told by the girls that they were part of a four person D of E team training on the Moor. Two lads had gone for help as they had no phone contact with their team manager. As we neared our rendezvous point for the ambulance we were called by the Police to deal with a continuation callout. The young girls were transferred to the care of the Ambulance service for transport to Derriford Hospital and we redeployed.

10th June (15) The Police had just been alerted to the fact that four youngsters were missing on the Moor. We were able to reassure them that the two girls had been located and handed to the Ambulance service and that we would commence a search for the two lads. Following many attempts to get more information about their original route and check points they were located back at the first casualty site. They had failed to locate their team manager and so returned to the tent. We escorted them and carried all their team kit back to be transported by LandRover to Baggator Gate to reunite them with their team manager.

3rd July (16) We were called by the Police at 23.37 and were requested to assist in the search for a high risk, despondent 50 year old male. He had been missing since early afternoon and his car had been located in a car park at Two Bridges. An initial search by Police, including use of the Police helicopter had failed to locate him. Members were deployed to search Wistman’s wood with a Search Dog from the Fire service Urban Search & Rescue unit while others searched open moorland and Tors north of Two Bridges in very poor visibility. The subject was located at Littaford Tor, in a semi conscious state having taken an overdose of tablets and alcohol as well as inflicting wounds to his wrists. He was treated by CasCarers and members of the Ambulance HART team were escorted to the site. After treatment the casualty was stretchered from the moor and transferred to an ambulance at Two Bridges. Team members did not get home until 04.30.

9th July (17) The Police called us at 12.39 to assist the Ambulance service with the evacuation of an exhausted 74 year old female from Littaford Tor. A fast walking party was deployed to the casualty site to liaise with Ambulance Service personnel on scene, followed by a party with stretcher and oxygen. The casualty was stretchered back to Crockern Cottage and then transported to the Ambulance at Powdermills. Her companions were transported to Princetown to collect their transport. Another successful operation in this area of the Moor, but this time in lovely sunny weather.

21st July Called at 02.20 by DSRT Okehampton to be on standby to assist in evacuation of hypothermic service personnel from remote area of Dartmoor. Informed at 04.00 that no assistance required as all had been safely escorted to Okehampton Camp.

22nd July (18) Called at 09.40 by Police to assist the Ambulance service with the recovery of a deceased male from a leat on Dartmoor. Subsequently we were stood down as there was thought to be possible contamination of the area and the Fire Service were called to assist.

28th July (19) We were contacted by the Police at 21.36 to assist in a search for a missing male, who was deemed to be at risk as his medication was overdue. While further details were being obtained, the subject was located fit and well, so we were stood down.

11th Aug (20) The Police called the Team at 19.29, with regard to two male walkers lost in the middle of the north Moor. The 34 and 50 yr old subjects had called Police to request assistance as they had become lost during a walk, which started from Burrator the previous day, and was planned to finish at Okehampton. They were wet and becoming hypothermic and had pitched a tent and believed they were possibly near Cut Hill. Following discussions regarding deployment we contacted our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton and planned a joint search, as the suggested location of the subjects is probably the most remote on Dartmoor. Okehampton team began to search south to Fur Tor and Cut Hill, whilst Tavistock Team searched from Baggator Gate toward the same area,assisted by members of the Fire Service USAR team from Exeter. Weather conditions were appalling, with constant rain and visibility at times down to 20 metres. After over 8 hours of searching the priority areas, which required travelling over extremely rough, waterlogged ground,the Teams were exhausted and recalled to their start points, leaving the Moor at around 5.30am. Plans were made for an air search to be made at first light, to be supported by ground searches by members of our sister Teams from Ashburton and Plymouth.
Postscript: Early on Saturday morning with improved weather and clear skies a search was made by the Coastguard helicopter from St Athan in S Wales, and the ground search was begun. At around 10.00 the Police were informed that the subjects were off the Moor and nearly at home in Plymouth, having earlier had a lift to Tavistock by a local farmer. Although they were aware a major search was in progress they had not bothered to let anyone know that they were safe and no longer on the Moor. Happily very few of the people that we assist are as thoughtless as these two.

For more information

If you are lost or injured and require urgent assistance from the team please dial 999 and ask for mountain rescue

You can write to us at the following address:

The Rescue Centre
Abbey Rise
PL19 9BS

Charity No: 1106094

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We are an entirely voluntary organisation based in Tavistock, Devon. We assist the police and the other emergency services to search for, treat and evacuate people lost or injured not just on Dartmoor, but anywhere we’re needed.

Each year we have to raise over £18,000 just to keep ourselves operational, plus any extra costs to replace kit and train our team members.Which is why we are thankful for every donation we receive so that we can maintain this vital service.

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