From police mobile camera van to SAR control in 280 hours

HantSARVolunteers from charity Hampshire Search and Rescue (HANTSAR) have successfully converted a police mobile camera van to an incident control vehicle, which will help them provide a more effective search and rescue service for vulnerable missing people in Hampshire.

The Vauxhall Movano 3500 van was bought at auction to replace the team’s existing control vehicle. To keep conversion costs to a minimum, eight HANTSAR team members, with backgrounds ranging from IT security to car technician have given up over 280 hours of their own time to carry out the work.

Phil Harvey, a project manager before he retired and now the team’s Vice Chairman, coordinated the project. Phil said, “The additional vehicle will provide some resilience for our command and control structure and will give us more space to transport the ever increasing amount of equipment required at searches.”

Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, said, “HANTSAR volunteers provide vital and often specialist support to the constabulary in times of crisis, working alongside police officers in their search for missing people who are at risk. Their work is often conducted in isolated rural areas where good communication is essential. This ‘state of the art’ vehicle, I am sure, will prove to be an invaluable resource for them and they should be congratulated on the vision that has brought this project to fruition.”

Several local companies have kindly donated equipment or given the team significant discounts on the vast range of electrical and other items needed to kit out the van. As well as a 10.5m radio mast for communicating with search teams out on the ground, it has wireless internet and two USB connected LED screens. These allow search managers to quickly receive extra information relating to the search and easily switch between mapping software and Google Earth/weather data.

Tony Privett, HANTSAR Chairman, added, “We are extremely grateful to the companies that have helped us. Our new command and control will help us provide a better service to help find vulnerable missing people in Hampshire. Equipment will now arrive at a search fully charged and having two vans with command and control capability allows us to take a vehicle off the road for maintenance without compromising our service to the police.”

The volunteer team’s next project is to replace its ageing Land Rover, which is used as an ambulance for evacuating casualties from remote locations and for providing blue light protection to teams conducting roadside searches. They are also looking for a secure base near Winchester or Eastleigh.