Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers gave up 10,000 hours of their time in 2016 Featured

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published in Malmesbury Newspapers
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WILTSHIRE Search and Rescue volunteers gave up more than 10,000 hours of their time in 2016, having been called out 51 times to find vulnerable and missing people.

The organisation have released their 2016 figures, which showed their dedicated team of volunteers were called out 43 times by Wiltshire Police, including saving the lives of two people they found.

They were asked a further eight times to assist with neighbouring search and rescue teams, bringing the total number of call-outs to 51.

In 2016 the Wiltshire Search and Rescue team gave up 10,071 hours of their time to help missing people. If this was converted into an average police officer’s wage, it would cost the taxpayer more than £180,000.

Wiltshire Police inspector Paul Saunders has paid tribute to the volunteers.

“When you speak to a Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteer their pride in what they do and their dedication to their craft is tangible,” he said.

“Their willingness to be on call, at all hours of the day, for no reward other than knowing they have been directly involved in saving lives does them credit.

“Wiltshire Police is very pleased to be associated with them and look forward to continuing the close working relationship that exists between us.”

For every hour that a volunteer team member spends searching for missing and vulnerable people, they spent another eight hours taking part in vital training.

Nearly 80 training events took place in 2016 including joint training exercises with the other emergency services.

Adrian Sawyer, chairman of Wiltshire Search and Rescue, added: “The statistics for 2016 show what a vital role we play in supporting the emergency services.

“Most importantly, vulnerable missing people that we help who need medical attention are given it by our volunteers, specifically trained to do this in an emergency situation.

“We directly helped to save the lives of two people last year who would have died if they had not been found and given lifesaving treatments by Wiltshire Search and Rescue volunteers.”

Wiltshire Search and Rescue takes new trainee volunteers twice a year and puts them through a rigorous training programme, before they go away for a weekend course to finalise their skills and to gain their Search Technician qualification.

There are currently 20 trainees learning the basic medical skills, working alongside experienced volunteers and expert paramedics.

Adrian Sawyer commented on what it’s like to be a trainee, saying: “The commitment is important and it’s not for everyone, but the amazing sense of being able to give something back to the community is what usually drives people through the rain, the cold and the evening exercises.

“When we’re out searching and we’re thanked by the family and friends of the person we have been called to help, all the hard work is immediately worthwhile.

“It’s an honour to be able to work alongside Wiltshire Police and to give the support that is needed at a time when it’s so critical.”

To find out more about Wiltshire Search and Rescue, visit wilsar.org.uk

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