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.