DSRT Tavistock – The Running (Hasty) Team
As Dartmoor is a relatively flat part of upland Britain (in comparison to many more mountainous areas) running as a search technique is a viable option. The techniques and skills are similar to those of a traditional search team albeit with some specific differences.
We carry less kit which means the safety margins are pared to a minimum, for this reason Hasty Team members are expected to have been team members in a traditional role of at least 12 months. We operate in teams of two or three which results in each member having to be able to take on multiple roles within a search. We often operate further out into the moor than the other teams meaning we are often ‘out there’ in more ways than one. Mental toughness is therefore very important. We may also be asked to run specific kit to a casualty site too – oxygen, entonox or other medication, splints and additional medical kit.
Fitness: both physical and mental fitness are key. We also expect potential team members to have a proven running ‘pedigree’; this is not based on times or distances in events but more on the ability to keep going, at night, in poor weather for an unknown amount of time. As the team are searchers it is also important to realise that we tend to run in spurts of 20-30 minutes interspersed with stops to search areas in depth, communicate via the radio and discuss events within the team. Much of the uphill is walked, albeit at a quick pace. Generally we cover ground at twice the pace of a walking team.
Navigation: We use a range of skills to navigate with which a regular walker will be familiar. We use handrails and catching features whenever possible. These techniques allow us to spend more time searching than navigating and ensure accuracy. Timing and pacing don’t really work well whilst trying to run and search. We also use GPS to back up our navigation and to home in on a grid reference. Local knowledge of an area can also be invaluable. We tend to use OS 1:25,000 and also the 1:40,000 Harveys/British Mountain Maps. A good knowledge of the moor is also essential – especially with a runner’s eye.
Kit: we use small ‘Hasty Handbags’ to take essential (and only essential) kit onto the hill. This will typically weigh 6-8kg and fits into a 25 litre OMM type rucksack. This is still a significant extra weight with which to run. A general walking rucksack will probably not hold the kit firmly in place causing bouncing and make for an uncomfortable time.
We carry full waterproofs; spare personal clothing (usually gloves, hat, buff, fleece); a jacket, hat and gloves which may be used by a casualty; very small personal first aid kit; headtorch and search torch; casrep, pen, map, compass and notepad; foil emergency bag; food and drink. Lighter weight climbing helmets are also carried for use with helicopter rescues. Team equipment will also be carried – a group shelter, comprehensive first aid kit, neckbrace, strobe, GPS and other items as deemed necessary.
Additional kit includes off-road running shoes, running tights and tops. When invited to callout status a team hasty jacket will be issued.
Pace/timing: being able to run for 20-30 minutes at a time repeatedly will be a good starting point. Most ‘new-to-hasty’ runners find running off tracks on open moorland, running with a rucksack, running in the dark, and running downhill off-road the most difficult.
Team Organisation: the hasty team are all experienced team members and rely on each other a great deal on a callout. Leadership is fluid and roles are shared. When encountering a cas-site it is often a highly demanding situation; help may well be a long time in arriving and the team may well be quite stretched. Therefore high levels of first aid training are required along with casualty site management skills. Many of the team are medical professionals.
Sense of Humour: we often laugh and joke as hasties, this helps build team spirit and make light of difficult situations (being abandoned by a promised helicopter lift at 11pm on Fur Tor in terrible December weather!) but when the chips are down we are focussed and dedicated team members working to the best of our abilities. Our fellow team members are convinced we only run when we’re in sight of other teams!
The Hasty Team place with Tavistock DSRT: it is also important to realise that the search manager may not feel a hasty search is appropriate. Therefore when turning up at a callout it is essential to be prepared to turn out in any team format. We may also be asked to join a walking team to expend a search line or to be held in reserve to run extra equipment to a cas-site.