North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (NDSART) has revealed that twop thirds of its callouts are in rural areas not on Dartmoor and that the biggest need is for people in mental distress, not always wanting to be found.
NDSART said two-thirds of its operations are in response to police requests to look for people reported missing who are categorised as high-risk and sometimes want to end their lives – with no desire to be found by anyone.
Searches for vulnerable people who go deliberately missing generally take longer than for other categories of people such as lost or injured walkers where there is an idea of their locations.
Becaause they are typically now undertaking longer searches, it is much more important for members to be able to keep warm and dry, especially with the increasing frequency of storms due to climate change. For this reason, the NDSART 2024 fundraising goal is replacing the team’s existing, worn-out waterproof clothing.
Matt Holland, the team’s press officer, and an operational team member, said: “2023 was a busy year, but one of lots of celebrations and hard work from a lot of incredible people throughout the community, who without, we couldn’t continue to do what we do.
“The launch of our new incident control vehicle has made a huge difference to the team and our capabilities.
“Most people typically think of mountain rescuers climbing up crags and searching for injured walkers, which is common in the north of England and North Wales, but here about two-thirds of our search and rescue activity is in rural areas off Dartmoor with some urban areas such as Exeter. These tend to be longer searches for high-risk missing persons who do not always want to be found and can last several days because they are harder to track down. This means members’ welfare needs supporting with higher quality waterproofs when they are out for longer in the more frequent storms we are having now.”
The team were called out 34 times in 2023. The search dogs and handlers had 11 callouts to support neighbouring teams. The longest rescue was 12 hours and eight were in urban areas.
Nine were for lost or injured people, 25 for vulnerable people, known as ‘despondents’ and three were to be on call during storms.
To help the team buy new waterproof gear, you can go to: