Thirteen weeks into 2017 and North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team has been involved with 16 incidents. Six have been on Dartmoor and the rest across Mid and North Devon. Of the moorland callouts 4 were for lower leg or ankle injuries, 2 were evacuated by helicopter but 2 involved stretcher carries by the team, one in fairly miserable weather. Of the other 2 moorland call outs, one was for a group of young people, two of whom were suffering from the cold and were airlifted to hospital but released the same evening, the rest of the group was walked to safety by the team. The other moorland callout was to assist a family who’d become disorientated just before dark.
The 10 non moorland callouts have involved searches for missing people. These searches often involve working alongside other emergency services; the police, fire brigade, coastguard or other Mountain Rescue teams from across the region. They have included the search for the missing junior doctor in North Devon and the river night search around Newton St Cyres.
Dave Stoneman, team leader for North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team commented: ‘We’ve had a flurry of moorland call outs so far this year, more than in recent years for the same period. I can’t imagine there’s anything in it, but 5 of the 6 have all been within 4 kilometres of each other which, given the size of Dartmoor, is a little unusual. The other real difference for us has been we’ve been able to locate all the moorland casualties before we left our vehicles. Although we’ve mostly had accurate grid references from the casualties, through their mobile phones we’ve been able to locate them on our computerised mapping using a system called SARLOCK; it makes a huge difference to the amount of time it takes us to reach people.’