By Chris Dixon
|In 1991 during the long drive back to the South West after a Karrimor Mountain Marathon in Arrochar, Chris Dixon, and a few other team members of the time. began to sow the seeds of establishing a running team that could be utilised for Search and Rescue on Dartmoor. Already members of DSRT, their initial thoughts were based on the theory that a 2-man running team with lightweight equipment could cover a large area of moorland. The aim being on a quick find with full back up by search teams.|
The nature of Dartmoor is steeped in myth and legend and represents many challenges for those who venture into the area. A sometimes featureless landscape hinders itself to the hapless navigator who struggles when the mist suddenly descends and he finds himself lost. The majority of Dartmoor call-outs for rescue teams are lost souls whose whereabouts are a mystery to friends and family, the only clue being a car left in a lonely spot… the proverbial needle in a hay- stack.
Back in 1991 Chris Dixon then put the concept of a running team forward to the Committee and immediately some reservations were voiced. Coping with the worst of winter gales and driving rain in nothing more than trainers and a thin jacket seemed like asking for trouble but finally it was decided to trial the runners for a 3-month period on exercise nights only.
Equipment for the new “Hasty” team was found, out went most of the normal rescue rucksack bulk, in came a scaled down version of first aid kits, cas. bags, etc. Their 30 litre rucksacks held all they needed, the rest of the team referred to them as “Hasty Handbags”. These exercises proved extremely successful and it was decided to use Hasty on subsequent call-outs.
To this day the Hasty team is still ideal for an area like Dartmoor. They are deployed ahead of the search teams and can be 4km into the moors before they hear the first radio checks of the walking teams. Typically a search area is the last known position or route the casualty was expected to take. Revisiting that area and continuing to search further a field until the route is complete is the objective. Limitations are based on the assumption the casualty is conscious and able to respond to shouts and horns otherwise the probability of discovery is low.
Currently, a member must be on the call out list for at least six months before they can join Hasty. As there are usually only 2 in a team at any one time, they need to be able to take control of a casualty site, this places much emphasis on training within a small group. Hasty’s tend to be a very close-knit unit for this reason and the camaraderie plays a large part of who we are.
Fitness is crucial, running over rough terrain saps the legs and can be risky at night. The distances covered can be huge, running for 7 hours or more is not uncommon. Of the 4 original members, only Chris remains. Kevin Brown, Mark Mitchell, and Andy Hodges back him up. As team leader he ensures the hasty’s function within the group as a whole. He likens Hasty to merely being a “cog in the wheel”…..but a very big cog at that!
For further information on Hasty or to contact Chris Dixon Click Here