STAFFORDSHIRE Search and Rescue – helping to keep the region’s residents safe and sound – is a crucial hub to the region’s emergency service network.
That’s the view of the Police Crime Commissioner, who was incredibly impressed by its work during his visit to the group’s headquarters, having handed over £3000 towards its up-keep last year.
Situated just a couple of miles from Stafford town centre, few would know the rescue team even exists, let alone the crucial role it has in the county.
Made up of 72 volunteers – aged between 18 and post-retirement age – the Staffordshire Search and Rescue team works in partnership with police in helping to find missing people, mainly those who are vulnerable and high risk.
There were 3000 ‘missing person’ calls to Staffordshire Police last year. Most were dealt with by the police and ended well. In some cases, often across more hazardous terrains, the Staffordshire Search and Rescue team was called out.
This year along, the rescue team has assisted 30 times. It is frequently required to tackle rough terrain, including water-bank searches.
Its equipment includes kayaks, canoes, a power boat, a 4×4 response vehicle, an ambulance, a control vehicle – to help coordinate searches with police – mountain bikes, medical provisions and other first aid equipment.
The volunteer ‘family’ also includes three dogs, specially-trained to detect missing individuals using airborne scent.
Matthew Ellis was moved by the group’s dedication and diligence to what can often be traumatic work.
‘These search and rescue volunteers are the little known heroes of Staffordshire –the emergency service you might have never heard of – and more people need to know about its work.
‘These are unpaid volunteers who give up their spare time and pass up the comfort of their own homes to help those caught up in life-threatening situations across our region.
‘We forget that Staffordshire has vast areas of open space, moorlands and rivers – all are potentially hazardous areas.
‘Staffordshire Search and Rescue saves lives, helps others and its personnel are ready to drop everything to tackle, quite often, the most unforgiving and treacherous places.
‘I am delighted to support this cause.’
Staffordshire Search and Rescue estimates that it costs in the region of £25,000 to support its service – mainly for the maintenance of equipment, insurance, fuel for vehicles and general costs.
Apart from OPCC assistance, its upkeep is reliant on fund-raising and public goodwill.
PR officer Rachel Good said: ‘We are extremely grateful to the OPCC for its financial commitment to Staffordshire Search and Rescue.
‘We are often called out to the most vulnerable people or those who are in the grips of the most distressing period of their lives.
‘Every penny we receive is crucial to our existence – it really is the lifeblood of our service. Without it we wouldn’t exist.’