The Dartmoor Rescue Group was first formed in Tavistock in 1968, to help provide efficient search and rescue facilities for the Police.
We are recognised by the Mountain Rescue Council which represents all mountain rescue teams in England and Wales. Nearly 40 years later, DSRT continues to provide support to search for, treat and evacuate people lost or injured not just on Dartmoor, but anywhere we’re needed. Now based in Ashburton, Okehampton, Plymouth and Tavistock, nearly 200 volunteers are available to answer Call-outs at all hours and in all weather conditions.
Until recently we were all one charity. This all changed a few years ago when we became self governing. Each team was renamed Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team followed by the name of its home base.
The Dartmoor Rescue Group still exists but is now an executive committee whose primary role is to oversee the liaison between the 4 DSRT’s. It is made up from representatives of all 4 DSRT’s.
How is the Rescue Team Called-Out?
DSRT (TAVISTOCK) is called-out by the Police when there is some reason to believe that one or more people may be missing or injured on Dartmoor or any other area the Police may require us to search. They will ‘page’ the controller for one of the four DSRT sections.
The controller is the person who plans and co-ordinates any search and rescue operation. They will then get the callout coordinator to send a SMS Text message to Team members informing them that there is a callout. This message would contain details of the RV point and basic information of our tasking. Team members would then head for the RV. Upon arrival there are normally jobs to be done like setting up the control vehicle or sorting out rescue equipment for deployment.
Whilst this is going on the controller (or search manager) would be planning the search areas. As more people arrive Teams would start deploying to their areas. Our Hasty and Search Dog Teams would be given areas especially suited to their specialist skills. Depending on the nature of the callout the Controller may call in other DSRT’s to assist us or request other support services from the Police.
After about 8 hours of searching we would normally call one of our sister teams to take over from us. Normally 2 DSRT’s would deal with a callout whilst the other 2 were left in reserve. On locating the casualty the Team would carry out the necessary medical care before deciding the best way to evacuate them. This could be by Helicopter, Land Rover or a stretcher carry off. Most casualties that are in the middle of the moor will need a stretcher ride to get them to a road head.
Helicopters don’t tend to fly in the weather we go out in!! No charge is made to the casualties we search for. Mountain Rescue across England and Wales is a voluntary service and we receive no government funding for the work that we do.
Which other Agencies do we work with?
There are many other agencies that we work with. These include HM Coastguard, Ambulance Service, Fire Brigade and even the RNLI.
Through these agencies and the Police we are able to call upon many resources such as Dive Teams, Helicopters, Water search Teams, Heat sensitive cameras, Extra 4×4 vehicles and even mobile catering units to name a few.
Each one of these resources is a great help and we continue to build an inter agency approach to missing persons searches in the South West.
In good weather an aircraft like the Air Ambulance or Police helicopter will very often be used to evacuate an injured person. The Police helicopter may also be used for searching. However the weather on Dartmoor can make searching by helicopter impossible. The only solution then is people (and dogs) on the ground, which is why DSRT call-outs are often on misty nights when it’s raining!
The Police helicopter is sometimes used for searching in conjunction with DSRT. An RAF or Royal Navy Search and Rescue helicopter may also be used during call-outs for searching, evacuation and flying search teams into a particular area. In the past we have also worked with HM Coastguard SAR helicopter from Portland. All Team members and Search Dogs carry out regular refresher training with Helicopters including winching and casualty loading.