DSRT Tavistock – 2018 Callouts.

6th Jan (1) Two of our Team’s SARDA search dog handlers took part in an extensive multi-agency search for a 32 yr old male who had been missing since 29/12/2017. The search covered a large area of farmland and moorland around the Harford area near Ivybridge. It was suspended at the end of the day without the subject being located.

3rd February (2) We were called at 15.37 to deal with an incident on the Moor, south of Fox Tor. A 14 year old girl who was part of a Ten Tors training exercise had fallen and injured an ankle and was unable to walk. The Team deployed from Peat Cot, along with members of DSRT Plymouth. A hasty walking team went directly to the site to assess and treat the casualty, while a larger support group took out the rest of the equipment and stretcher. The casualty was then transported back to our R.V. in heavy rain and darkness, and then handed over to school staff.

4th February (3) We were called by the Police at 10.26 to assist in the search for a male deemed to be at high risk. He was reported to be despondent and had been missing from home for three days, believed to be sleeping rough in woodland. As team members arrived at the RV point in Yelverton we were stood down as the subject had just returned to his home address.

16th February (4) The Team were called at 05.30 to assist the Police in the search for a 42 year old male, missing from Walkhampton. As members arrived at the control point we were stood down as the Police had located the subject, safe and well.

16th February (5) At midday we were called again by the Police to assist the Ambulance service with the evacuation of a 75 year old male who was believed to have suffered a stroke whilst walking near Krap’s Ring in Bellever Forest. As members arrived the casualty was evacuated by the Devon Air Ambulance and we escorted his companion back to her car.

21st February (6) The Police called us at 17.41 regarding a missing high risk female, who’s vehicle had been located at Sheepstor. Before the Team were deployed we were stood down as the subject had been located and an Ambulance was en route.

1st March (7) The Team were put on standby at 18.00 to assist with problems occurring due to the severe winds and heavy snowfall. At 21.00 we were tasked by the Police to go to Sourton Cross to help with the evacuation of motorists in over 200 lorries and cars, stuck on the A30 between Launceston and Sourton Cross. Only 4-wheel drive vehicles were able to make the journey, which was hampered by many abandoned vehicles and in places 2 metre deep drifts of snow. Two JCB’s were cutting access through the worst drifts as we approached, and without them the road would have closed. En route members assisted in digging out some cars already stuck in drifts. On arrival at the service area at Sourton we were tasked with checking on the welfare of the stranded motorists and then forming up convoy groups to be escorted to a welfare centre established in Okehampton College. Our colleagues from DSRT Okehampton and Plymouth were also involved in these tasks as well as digging out some vehicles and evacuating occupants of cars stuck on the road from Sourton toward the Manor Hotel. We left the scene at 03.00 to return to Tavistock.

2nd March (8) We were requested by the Police to be available to provide 4×4 vehicle assistance to SWASFT, in situations where they could not access incidents because of the snowy and icy conditions.
At 14.45 we deployed a 4×4 unit with 2 man crew, including a Casualty Care qualified member, to Princetown where icy surfaces were like a skating rink, to attend a patient who was experiencing serious breathing problems. He was transferred by our LandRover to an ambulance that had managed to reach Princetown. We then escorted the Ambulance as far as Yelverton, for transport to Derriford Hospital.
At 21.37 we were called to provide care to an 83 year old lady in Tavistock, who also was experiencing breathing difficulty. Her oxygen saturation was low, so Oxygen was administered and she was cared for until SWASFT Paramedics arrived to take over.

18th March (9) Just after midnight we were called by the Police to assist the Ambulance Service. A serviceman had collapsed during a night exercise near Baggator and help was required to get him to the Ambulance. Members were called out to attend, but were stood down en route as the casualty had been loaded onto the ambulance.

18th March (10) At 13.40 one of our LandRover ambulances with a crew of two members was deployed to Sourton Cross, to assist our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton who were involved with aiding traffic management and driver welfare in the snow on the A30. They assisted the Police at several accidents and walked sections of the highway checking on stranded motorists. At around 21.30 our members set off to return to Tavistock, as there was no further traffic movement on the A30 due to the snow and icy conditions, with around 80 vehicles unable to progress further. Over 80 motorists were escorted to spend the night in a welfare centre set up in Okehampton College. It took two hours for our team to reach Tavistock, having to make detours on several roads to find a way past abandoned vehicles and impassable snowdrifts, finally reaching home ten hours after starting their callout.

18th March (11) Just as the above vehicle deployed to Sourton we were alerted by the Police to undertake a search for a lost lone male walker, somewhere on the moor in the region of Burrator. Team members were deployed, along with some of our colleagues from DSRT Plymouth and a SARDA dog team, to search in driving snow over open moorland near Sheepstor and Yellowmead Down. While contacting Police for any updated information we were told that the subject had reached his car, and was safe and well. We therefore stood down.

5th April (12) At 12.22 the Police called us to assist the Ambulance service with the evacuation of a casualty from the slope just below Brentor Church. A gentleman had slipped on the wet ground and sustained an ankle injury which prevented him descending from the tor. A stretcher party was deployed to the incident and recovered him to a SWASFT ambulance in the car park. The casualty later contacted to express his thanks and to let us know that the hospital had confirmed that he had a fracture which required a plaster cast.

24th April (13) We were called at 22.05 to be made aware of an incident in the Gutter Tor area. A serviceman had not returned from an afternoon solo navigation exercise and there were concerns for his safety, as although he was well-equipped he had no means of communication. Once full details had been obtained DSRT Tavistock and DSRT Plymouth teams were deployed. An extensive search took place over Ringmoor Down, extending north past Eylesbarrow and eastwards to Ditsworthy and Drizzlecombe. It was a multi-agency effort involving our DS&R Teams, Police, military personnel, Sarda search dogs and a Coastguard helicopter. Just before 01.30 our hasty running team spotted a light about 500metres north east of Eylesbarrow cairn, and then located the subject who was unharmed. The team and serviceman were then returned to the Scout Hut by LandRover and we returned to base at 03.00.

23rd May (14) The Police called us at 04.00 to assist in the search for a missing 33year old vulnerable female, believed to be within Tavistock. Shortly after our members arrived at our Rescue Centre ready to begin a search the subject appeared in the road outside and was taken into the care of the Police.

29th May (15) We were called by the Police just before 4p.m. to assist the Ambulance service with an incident near the East Dart waterfall, north of Postbridge. A female in a group of four walkers had fallen and injured her left ankle, and was unable to bear weight to walk. We deployed two members to transport kit to a paramedic who had set off onto the Moor, but they then had to locate her as she was not on the correct route. Other members carried out the stretcher and associated kit required. On arriving at the grid reference for the casualty location there was no one there and so members were deployed to search for the subjects. Eventually they were spotted near Braddon Lake, having attempted to hobble off the moor. After splinting of her leg and administration of painkillers the lady was stretchered to the waiting Ambulance in Postbridge Car Park.

6th June (16) At 17.34 our assistance was requested by the Ambulance Service, to evacuate a 56 year old male who had pulled a muscle in his leg and who felt unable to walk off the Moor. His location was given as near the Beehive Hut by the East Dart river, about 2.5 km north of Postbridge. We deployed from Postbridge Car Park, initially with a hasty team to assess the situation, followed by a stretcher party. He was located on the path south of the original position given, and following administration of analgesics he was escorted back to Postbridge. After assessment by one of our doctors he was transported home by one of our members.

18th June (17) The Police called us at 14.21 to assist a family lost on the Moor in very poor visibility. By using SARLOC technology we were able to determine their location via the subject’s mobile phone. One of our Search Managers then spoke with them and was able to direct them a short distance to a road which they could follow back to their car. We closed the incident when they called back to confirm that they were safely back at their vehicle. This was another example of people venturing onto the Moor in poor weather without map or compass, but fortunately the incident was resolved quickly by the use of technology.

25th June (18) We were called at 15.19 by the Police to assist the Ambulance service to evacuate a collapsed 14 year old girl from the Moor. She was one of a group of nine youngsters reported to be at Leeden Tor. Within 30 minutes of the initial call members had set out on the moor to locate the group, but soon discovered that the subjects were not at the Tor. They were redeployed toward Ingra Tor and made contact with them near there. A 4×4 Ambulance had reached the site and the young girl was evacuated to hospital for assessment.

27th June (19) The Police requested our assistance at 01.05 in the search for a 46 year old female who was deemed to be at high risk. She had been seen last at 18.00 the previous evening in Downderry, but her car had been located near woodland to the north of Looe. In spite of the time of call we sent a significant number of members to join in the planning and execution of an extensive multi-agency search. In addition to our members there were personnel from our neighbouring Search & Rescue Teams from Cornwall and Plymouth, two SARDA search dogs, HM Coastguard, Police and helicopters from both the National Police Air Service and HM Coastguard. The search continued throughout the night in difficult areas of dense woodland on steep slopes and also the surrounding farmland. After eight hours reserve personnel were called in from our sister Teams in Ashburton and Okehampton to relieve the overnight searchers. At around 12.50 the subject was located by Police, unharmed, in a village churchyard. A successful outcome of a 12 hour deployment.

8th July (20) At 14.57 we received a call from the Police asking us to assist with the evacuation of a collapsed 17year old girl believed to be suffering from heat exhaustion. She was part of a group of D of E walkers and was at Great Gnat’s Head. We passed the call to DSRT Plymouth as that location is in their operational area, but were then asked by them to standby to assist them. At 16.28 we were stood down as the young girl had been airlifted from the Moor by an Air Ambulance.

9th July ( 21) The Police called us out at 12.42 to assist the Ambulance service with the evacuation of an 80 year old female walker from the river bank near the junction of the Swincombe and West Dart rivers. She had fallen and dislocated her hip. As the first of our members reached the casualty site the subject was airlifted to hospital by an Air Ambulance helicopter. The rest of her group required no assistance and continued their walk.

29th July (22) We were initially called by the Police at 22.17 for advice regarding a male and his 14 year old daughter missing on the Moor between Burrator and Princetown. Attempts were made to locate their position using SARLOC, but no response was received at first. A member deployed to locate the car belonging to the missing person and we then began our callout to search. There was concern for safety of the male as he is a diabetic and was without his medication, and also for his daughter as heavy rain and thick mist had lowered the temperature on the Moor. We received a response from our SARLOC technology at the same time as one of our search parties heard whistle calls. The subjects were then located quickly and escorted in very poor visibility back to our control point and reunited, unharmed, with family members.

This incident is another reminder that one should always be prepared for bad weather and poor visibility, by carrying a torch, compass and map, and a whistle to attract any searchers.

20th August (23) At 18.33 we were called by the Police to assist an elderly male who was stuck in mud on Dartmoor, near Postbridge. While our Search Manager was obtaining further information we were stood down, as the Fire Service who had been called earlier had managed to extricate the subject.

28th August (24) The Police requested our assistance at 19.35 as they had concerns for the welfare of an at risk 50 year old male. Against advice of staff he had walked out of his nursing home in Roborough to spend the night on Dartmoor. The Team were put on standby in readiness for deployment. After lengthy deliberation the level of risk was revised and lowered and the Police stood us down at 22.49.

1st September (25) At 21.20 the Police requested us to assist the Ambulance service with an incident at Cuckoo Rock near Burrator Reservoir. A 41 year old male had fallen about 3 metres vertically from the rock when climbing with a friend and had sustained an ankle injury. We initially deployed two of our members to guide a Paramedic to the casualty site and then further members carried in support equipment and a stretcher. As the subject was being attended to and assessed for any further injury an air ambulance helicopter from Wiltshire arrived above the scene. Eventually they located a landing site and our members then stretchered the casualty over rough ground and assisted in loading him onto the aircraft. He was then airlifted to Derriford Hospital.

29th September (26) We were called by the Police at 10.26 to assist in the search for a female believed to be at high risk. She was thought to be on Drake’s Trail near Magpie Bridge. One of our Search Managers near that area was tasked to go there directly to liaise on site while the rest of the Team were called out. As they were deploying we were stood down as fortunately the subject had been located.

4th October (27) At 18.54 the Police called us to assist in the search for a high risk 45 year old female who had been missing for nearly three hours. It took some time to establish where to base the search and then our members were called out to rendezvous with Police in Horrabridge. While Team members were en route we were stood down as the subject had been located, alive but with some injuries.

18th October (Incident 28) Our colleagues in DSRT Plymouth called us at 14.19 to assist them in the evacuation of a casualty from the Dewerstone Rock climbing area in the Plym valley below Shaugh Prior. The subject had fallen about 40 feet and sustained ankle and possible spinal injuries. Members of both Teams assisted paramedics in stretchering the casualty over rough, rocky ground to the Ambulance at Shaugh Bridge car park.

24th October (29) At 13.34 the Ambulance service requested us to assist with a 55 year old female who had fallen from her horse and hit her head on landing. She had been riding near Laughter Tor. Team members arrived on site and after discussion with paramedics it was decided to use the six-wheeled Polaris vehicle of the ambulance HART unit to transport the casualty to the roadhead for transfer to a land ambulance at 16.40. This was the second successful joint agency involvement in a week.

25th October (30) The Police called us at 19.14 to deal with an incident on open moorland near Powdermills, between Two Bridges and Postbridge. Two people had got into difficulties, having gone off the track as darkness approached , one reportedly stuck up to their waist in mud and water. On locating the subjects our members were surprised to find that one was using an “all-terrain” wheelchair in such a location. The male walker was fine, but the female in the wheelchair had to be freed from the bog by attaching floating ropes to the wheelchair followed by strenuous pulling. The pair were escorted back to Powdermills, cold but otherwise unharmed. A resident at Powdermills kindly provided them with warming refreshments.

3rd November (31) At 11.27, during a meeting of Search and Rescue Team Leaders, a request was received for assistance with an incident near Arms Tor. A 14 year old lad in a group of youngsters was reported to be unwell, slipping in and out of consciousness. After a discussion regarding available personnel it was agreed to send members from both DSRT Tavistock and DSRT Okehampton to meet with South West Ambulance personnel at Highdown. Hill parties were deployed with first aid kit and stretcher and by the use of our phone location system we were able to establish the position of the casualty site. The weather was deteriorating, with rain and thick mist reducing visibility, so we used our stretcher to transport the subject down from the ridge as it could cover the steep descent more quickly and smoothly than the six-wheeled Polaris that had been deployed. He was then put aboard one of our LandRovers and transported to the SWAST ambulance at Highdown. This was another example of successful joint working of Dartmoor Teams with The Ambulance service.

3rd November (32) An hour after we had been called for the previous callout we were called by the Police to assist with another incident. They had serious concerns for the safety of a 92 year old female who had gone missing from her home in Tavistock. Members not already deployed to the Arms Tor call were put on standby to begin a search, but were stood down when we were informed that the subject had been located, safe and unharmed.

23rd November (33) The Police requested our assistance to deal with a crag fast sheep. They had been informed by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer that it had been chased over the edge of Foggintor Quarry by a dog four days ago and had remained stranded on a small ledge above a tall vertical drop. Several of our rope team members agreed to go and assess the situation, with a view to attempting a rescue in daylight the following morning. One member descended to the ledge and managed to get the sheep to regain the top of the rockface, from where it rapidly departed into the darkness, appearing none the worse for its ordeal.

25th November (34) We were called at 09.27 by the Police to assist in the search for a high risk female missing from her home in Horrabridge. On arrival at the designated rendezvous point at Bedford Bridge a team was immediately deployed to Knowle Down as there were indications that the subject had gone in that direction. She was located in undergrowth at 10.05 and was assessed by one of our CasCarers. Wounds were dressed and oxygen administered and then the casualty was placed in a vacuum mattress and stretchered to a National Police Air Service helicopter that had landed in a field adjacent to Knowle Down. She was then flown, accompanied by one of our Team doctors, to Derriford Hospital for treatment.

1st December (35) We were contacted late on Friday evening by DSRT Plymouth, asking that we continue a search in Plymstock, which they had started that evening. DSRT Tavistock members as well as some members of DSRT Plymouth deployed early Saturday morning in rain and high winds to search for a male in his forties, who was deemed high risk as he had not been seen since leaving home on the Wednesday. Areas searched included quite dense woodland, open fields and quarries. It was an extensive multi-agency operation, involving Police including their water search team, the Fire Service Urban Search & Rescue team, and Police helicopter. At around 3.30 p.m. the search was stood down as the subject had been located alive in an hotel in SE Cornwall.

2nd December (36) Just after midday we were called by the Police to deal with an incident near Merrivale. A female runner had reported herself lost in poor weather on the Moor and as Police were trying to establish her position her mobile phone battery failed. A search team was deployed to the area most likely, but before the subject was located we were informed that she had arrived at Vixen Tor Cottage and no further assistance was required from us.

2nd December (37) While the above incident was ongoing we received another call for assistance. The Ambulance service requested help in evacuating a female casualty who had sustained a fracture of an ankle and a wrist injury whilst walking near Black Tor. Team members were deployed to the casualty site near the aqueduct south of Black Tor and provided casualty care to immobilise the injury. The subject was then stretchered up the hill to the SWAST ambulance waiting on the road, for transport to Derriford Hospital.

5th December (38) The Police called at 04.17 to request assistance in the search for two soldiers who had been missing in foul weather during an exercise on the open Moor. During the telephone call with Police Control Room the servicemen were located and so no further response was required from us.

18th December (39) DSRT Tavistock were called by our colleagues in DSRT Okehampton at 10.58, requesting us to assist them in a search for a high risk male from Cambridgeshire. He had been on the Moor overnight and his car had been located by the Police at Prewley Moor. Members from both Teams were deployed onto the Moor, accompanied by some members of the Fire Service USAR team. Working in heavy rain, strong winds and limited visibility they searched an extensive area of open moorland and at 13.25 the subject was located on the NE slopes of Corn Ridge. He was treated for exposure and hypothermia and then stretchered over rough ground to Prewley Waterworks, where he was handed over to the care of Ambulance service personnel in a waiting Ambulance. This was a successful outcome from another example of great inter-agency working .