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 (13) 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 (14) 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 (15) 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 (16) 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 (17) 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 (18) 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 (19) 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 (20) 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 (21) 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.

18th Aug (22) The Police called the Team at 18.41 to assist 4 males from Bristol who were lost on the Moor north of Princetown, one of whom suffering from a lower leg injury. They had been walking from Okehampton to Princetown. The Team were deployed from Cox Tor car park as we were initially given a grid reference for them not far from that location. The National Police Air Service helicopter located them further north near Maiden Hill, and transported them back to our control point. Team members then transported them to their booked accommodation in Princetown.

19th Aug (23) We were called at 08.06 to assist the Ambulance service with an incident at Great Mis Tor. Two young males had camped there overnight and during the rough weather their tent had blown down and they had become soaked and cold, exhibiting signs of hypothermia. The Team deployed up the track towards Gt Mis and met the subjects being walked off by Ambulance personnel. Members assisted in escorting them and their kit back to our Control Point, and after they had been discharged by the Ambulance service we transported them to Princetown.

20th Aug (24) At 15.40 we were called by the Police to assist four young males and 1 female in difficulties on the Moor north of Princetown in poor visibility and rain. Further information revealed that they had been part of the group that were assisted near Gt Mis Tor the previous morning and were thought to be in that area. A hasty walking party located them on the Tor as further members deployed in LandRovers to assist. The subjects and their kit were escorted to our vehicles and after being given some advice were taken to their car in Princetown.

20th Aug (25) North Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team (Okehampton) were called at 19.00 by the Police to search for a female and a male with a gash to his leg who were lost in thick mist while returning to Fernworthy from a walk to Cranmere Pool and Cut Hill. They believed they were near a tinner’s hut by the East Dart river, east of Cut Hill. Our colleagues in NDSRT started the search from Fernworthy Forest and Hangingstone Hill, searching southwards and called DSRT Tavistock at 20.20 to assist. We deployed three parties plus a search dog team from Postbridge northwards up the East Dart toward Broad Marsh, searching over rough terrain in rain and poor visibility. Just before midnight we were informed that the subjects had met with some members of the public, well outside our search areas and were being escorted from the Moor. Members from both teams were recalled to their start points, the last coming off the Moor at 02.00.
This concluded one of DSRT Tavistock’s busiest weekends in our history.

28th Aug (26) The Police called at 18.29 requesting us to assist the Ambulance service with a male who had repeatedly fallen and injured his neck. As he had no map it took some time for us to estimate his location. As team members arrived at the RV near Dunnabridge the Devon Air Ambulance airlifted the subject from the Moor to the roadside. We then monitored his two companions during their return to the car park. If suitable footwear had been worn the incident may well have been avoided.

1st Sept (27) We were called by the Police at 19.30 to assist a 17 year old female who had fallen and injured an ankle and could walk no further. She was part of a six person Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition. What should have been a simple operation was complicated by being told that the casualty site was on the West bank of the East Dart River, a couple of Kilometres north of Postbridge. In fact the group were on the East bank, which necessitated the stretcher and kit being transported across the river by the first hill parties deployed. Support parties walked up the east side of the river escorting some members of South West Ambulance Trust “HART” team. The subject was given pain relief, her ankle splinted and then stretchered back to Postbridge where she was handed over to the waiting Ambulance crew. The other members of the D of E team remained to camp overnight and continue their expedition in the morning.

6th Sept (28) The Police called us for assistance at 18.00 regarding two walkers lost and stuck in boggy ground. They were holidaymakers from London who had been walking from Ivybridge to Princetown. Information given suggested that they could have walked into Fox Tor Mires. They were located there by Team members, guided south from the Mire and escorted to Nun’s Cross Farm, from where they were transported by our Team LandRover to Princetown.

28th Sept (29) At 17.49 the Police called us with an enquiry regarding the report of a sighting of a possible distress flare near Sheepstor. The Police helicopter had observed a camping group near the edge of the tree plantation. Two local members were deployed to check the site, but en route confirmed that it was military exercises in the area that had triggered the initial report. No further action required.

24th October (30) We were called at 16.30 to assist the Police to locate two ladies in their 70’s who had reported themselves lost in mist on the Moor. Their car was at the road approaching Higher Godsworthy and they had walked about 45 minutes. We attempted to locate them using SARLOC without success, so hasty walking parties were deployed toward the nearest Tors, as the ladies had reported being near large rocks. Visibility was down to about 15 metres which slowed our search, so when we did log their position by SARLOC it enabled us to get team members to go directly to them. The subjects and their elderly little dog were escorted to Shillapark and transported back to our RV by LandRover.

19th November (31) At 16.45 the Police requested our assistance in the search for a lady in her 50’s, who had been missing since early morning. She was believed to have been on Kit Hill as certain items had been located there, which were believed to belong to her and there were serious concerns for her welfare. Our Team deployed several parties along with a search dog team to search areas of dense undergrowth and uneven rocky ground in dark and misty conditions, whilst a flooded quarry was searched by Cornwall Fire and Rescue personnel. We suspended operations after four hours when further information was forthcoming which suggested strongly that she was not in our search location. (Postscript: The subject was located in Plymouth the following morning).

8th December (32) At 17.43 we were put on standby by the Police to be ready to assist in a possible search on Dartmoor near the Warren House Inn. It had been reported that a motorcycle, jacket and helmet had been in a layby for a long time at a remote part of the Moor and were still there when darkness fell. As the weather was bleak there were concerns for the rider’s welfare. We were stood down when further information to the Police revealed that the absent rider was experienced in outdoor survival and had ventured onto the Moor fully equipped for the conditions.

13th Dec (33) We were called at 09.33 by our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton to assist them in a search for a 46 year old male who had been missing from his home in North Tawton since around 17.00 the previous day. There were concerns for his safety as he had not been dressed suitably for the inclement weather at the time. The Police helicopter searched a large area of agricultural land whilst extensive searches of woodland were made by our foot parties in occasional heavy rain. At 13.25 we received the sad news that the body of the missing gentleman had been located and we recalled our members to our control point. Several members were then tasked to assist with the recovery.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends at this sad time.

16th Dec Two of our Team’s SARDA dog teams assisted in the search for a 16 year old lad who had been missing from home since 13th. A multi-agency search was carried out at Ottery St Mary by Dartmoor Search& Rescue Teams from Ashburton and Okehampton alongside Police and D&SFRS. Sadly his body was located in a field at 11.19 and the deployment closed when Police took over the scene. A very sad outcome especially at this time of year. Our members thoughts are with his family and friends.

23rd Dec (34) The Police called us at 14.44 regarding a search for a 66 year old male lost in mist on the Moor near Burrator. They were in contact with him by mobile phone and asked us to be on standby in case he did not meet up with Police who had gone onto the Moor to look for him. We deployed at around 15.30 as he had still not appeared. One of our search teams located him between Down Tor and Cuckoo Rock as darkness fell and escorted him back to our control point at Norsworthy Bridge where his car was parked.