The Dartmoor Rescue Group was formed in Tavistock in April 1968, to help The Police provide an efficient search and rescue service on Dartmoor and other remote places. We are affiliated to Mountain Rescue England and Wales. 51 years later, the four Dartmoor Search & Rescue Teams continue to provide support to search for, treat and evacuate people lost or injured not just on Dartmoor, but anywhere we’re needed. Based in Tavistock, Ashburton, Okehampton and Plymouth nearly 200 volunteers are available to answer Call-outs at all hours and in all weather conditions.
At first we were all one charity, but this changed a several years ago when we became self governing and each team was renamed Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team followed by the name of its home base.
The Dartmoor Rescue Group still exists but is now an executive committee whose primary role is to oversee the liaison between the 4 DSRT’s. It is made up from representatives of all 4 DSRT’s.
How is the Rescue Team Called-Out?
DSRT (TAVISTOCK) is called-out by the Police when there is some reason to believe that one or more people may be missing or injured on Dartmoor or any other area the Police may require us to search. They will call a Team Search Manager using a system called SARCALL. The Search Manager will plan and co-ordinate any search and rescue operation in consultation with the Police. The Team members are called out using the SARCALL system which will give details of the RV point and basic information of the tasking. Team members would then head for the RV. Upon arrival members will set up the control vehicle and prepare rescue equipment for deployment.
Whilst this is going on the Search Manager would be planning the search areas. As more people arrive Teams would start deploying to their areas. Our Hasty and Search Dog Teams would be given areas especially suited to their specialist skills. Depending on the nature of the callout the SM may call in other DSRT’s to assist us or request other support services from the Police.
After about 8 hours of searching we would normally call one of our sister teams to take over from us. Often 2 DSRT’s would deal with a search whilst the other 2 were left in reserve. On locating the casualty the Team would carry out the necessary medical care before deciding the best way to evacuate them. Most casualties that are in the middle of the moor will need a stretcher ride to get them to a road head or track where our LandRover Ambulances can take over, unless a helicopter is available for a more rapid transfer.
No charge is made to the casualties we assist. Mountain Rescue across England and Wales is a voluntary service and we receive no government funding for the work that we do, relying solely on public donations and some grant funding.
Which other Agencies do we work with?
There are many other agencies that we work with. These include HM Coastguard, Ambulance Service, Fire Brigade and even the RNLI.
Through these agencies and the Police we are able to call upon many resources such as Dive Teams, Helicopters, Water search Teams, heat seeking cameras, extra 4×4 vehicles etc.
Each one of these resources is a great help and we continue to build an inter agency approach to missing persons searches in the South West.
In good weather an aircraft like the Air Ambulance or National Police Air Service helicopter will very often be used to evacuate an injured person. The Police helicopter may also be used for searching. However the weather on Dartmoor can sometimes make searching by helicopter impossible. The only solution then is people (and dogs) on the ground, which is why DSRT call-outs are often on misty, dark nights when it’s raining!