Lowland team to the rescue
Lincolnshire Lowland Search and Rescue is dedicated to helping find missing adults and children, as well as supporting emergency services during high risk incidents and natural disasters. Kate Chapman finds out about the volunteers’ training and challenges.
The team of volunteers, known as LincsLSAR, is part of the UK Search and Rescue Operators Group, which also includes Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue, HM Coastguard and the RNLI, and is one of 36 lowland rescue groups nationally.
As a registered charity it receives no government funding to carry out its lifesaving work, and instead relies entirely on support and donations from businesses and members of the public.
It has professionally-trained volunteers across the county, from Market Deeping in the south, to Grimsby in the north, as well as Lincoln, Boston and Spalding.
The team is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, giving up their time free of charge to assist in the search, location, welfare and rescue of missing children and vulnerable missing adults.
These dedicated volunteers come from all walks of life and include military personnel, police officers and university students, who each bring their own unique skills and knowledge as well as enthusiasm for the role.
“The primary role of LincsLSAR is to assist Lincolnshire and Humberside Police in cases of high-risk missing children and vulnerable missing adults,” explains LincsLSAR secretary Helen Foster-Isaacs.
“The police call our team when needed and once at the location, we liaise with all emergency services attending and formulate a search plan – this could involve searching either an urban or rural setting, or a waterway.
“In order to be effective in searching, our volunteers are trained to high standards in a number of key areas including search techniques, navigation, first aid and safeguarding.”
Volunteers complete professional training and once they have qualified as search technicians, they can be invited to undertake specialist roles in areas including water bank search, bike search and dog search.
Individuals love the variety that working with the team brings and say it gives them the opportunity to learn different skills and meet new people while also giving something back to their local community.
“We’ve recently welcomed an ex-military search dog trainer to the team too,” adds Helen, “and he will be carrying out all of the search dog training, which is a huge asset to the search and rescue capabilities of our team.
“This training for search dogs is provided entirely free of charge, with thanks to the generosity of the trainer.”
In order to provide the team with the vital equipment it needs to carry out its work, a dedicated group of fundraisers is constantly applying for funding and grants and also looking at other ways of raising money to support members and their work.
Helen says this includes asking businesses to nominate the team as its charity of the year or to provide one-off donations. Members of the public can also support LincsLSAR by choosing it as their charity when shopping online with certain retailers through the easyfundraising® website.
The charity has also signed up as a good cause with the Lincoln Lottery initiative. Helen explains that anyone can be a supporter by buying a ticket for £1 each week, with LincsLSAR receiving half of the ticket sales, while supporters can win prizes of up to £25,000.
“The team’s aspirations for the next 12 months are to continue to grow in both size and capabilities,” says Helen.
“We’re also seeking to embrace future technologies with drone training. Of course, this will require the purchase of a drone with thermal imaging technology, but this has already proved itself to be an invaluable new method of search and rescue.
“We’re currently raising funds to be able to put this project in place and also secure funding for handheld thermal imaging camera technology.”
The team’s main fundraising campaign this year is to raise enough to enable it to procure an incident control vehicle.
Helen explains: “This is a vitally important tool for the team in order for it to transport equipment to locations, provide members with welfare facilities and enable key members to meet privately to co-ordinate and plan a search effectively.
“The vehicle will also be branded with the team’s logo, so it will be instantly recognisable as belonging to LincsLSAR at any event or incident. As you can imagine this is an expensive piece of equipment, so the team is grateful for any offers of support in this regard.
“It really is an exciting time for the team at LincsLSAR as we continue to deliver a quality, professional service to the community and people of Lincolnshire and support the emergency services.”
* LincsLSAR is actively recruiting new members throughout the year, with training taking place at Wragby Fire Station alongside practical training throughout the county. To find out more about joining the team email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about LincsLSAR visit www.lincslsar.org