Spotlight on Wiltshire Search and Rescue (WILSAR)

Written by WILSAR chair

What does WILSAR do?

Wiltshire Search and Rescue exists to locate missing or vulnerable people, and get them to a place of safety. We are deployed to incidents by the Police, Fire and Ambulance control rooms. Most of our taskings are high risk missing persons via the Police, but we also are sent to water incidents like widespread flooding, snow or other extreme weather events. Occasionally we'll assist the ambulance service to get a casualty from a remote location (e.g. crashed ultralight aircraft) back to the nearest road, and we can also be used to support when a Major Incident is declared.

The teams is based at Police HQ in Devizes, but we also use Fire and Ambulance stations as secondary sites for parking our vehicles and training locations. The team has 117 volunteers and 5 dogs. Our fleet includes a control vehicle that acts as a Forward Command Point at incidents, an equipment vehicle that contains everything we need for a protracted incident, and a 4x4 to deliver teams and equipment to the incident location and then extract a casualty in a stretcher back again. We also have 2 trailers, 4 mountain bikes, a state-of-the-art drone, a powered boat and 2 sleds.

An incident recently responded to?

Recently we responded to an incident in Wilton, where there had been rising flood water and the electricity had gone off. We were requested to attend by a multi-agency Tactical Co-ordinating Group, and had boots on the ground within an hour. We worked alongside SSEN to check on all the vulnerable residents, and be ready to assist if someone needed to be evacuated from their home through the flood water.