New Incident Control Unit boosts search and rescue

A Midlands-based charity that helps to track down missing vulnerable people has been boosted by the addition of a new Incident Control Unit.

Warwickshire Search and Rescue (WarkSAR), which is run entirely by volunteers, took possession of the specially-adapted Mercedes Benz Sprinter Panel van last month, which will be used to co-ordinate its search and rescue missions across the county and beyond.

WarkSAR has more than 40 fully-trained volunteers, who search for missing people on land, in water – using kayaks – and they also use drones to scan areas from above. The Incident Control Unit is used to co-ordinate all these efforts.

The new van, which cost more than £75,000 including the extensive fit out, was purchased following two years of fundraising activities and replaces the organisation’s previous vehicle, a former police riot van donated by the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner in 2015.

Ian Malins, chair of WarkSAR, said the vehicle had served them well, but had started to show its age and needed replacing.

The new vehicle is rather more fit for purpose. Purchased from Midlands Truck and Van, it has been adapted to the 75-strong team’s specifications by Doncaster-based Cartwright Conversions. The fit out includes office-type space for Search Managers to use when managing callouts, two laptop docking stations, WiFi connectivity and a digital radio for secure communication with search teams, as well as a built-in generator to charge up radio and drone batteries and boil water for volunteers’ drinks.

Mr Malins acknowledged the help of Midlands Truck and Van, as well as the team at Cartwright Conversions who handled the van’s extensive fit out, which also includes storage space for important items when setting up on a callout, such as road cones, signage as well a welfare tent for search volunteers.

“We expect the new van to give us 15-20 years of service, so we needed to get a really good job done on the fit out and make it worth the massive fundraising effort. We couldn’t have done it without a number of generous donations, which included grants and funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire, Warwickshire Police Community Fund and the High Sheriff of Warwickshire.

PCC Phiilp Seccombe added, “I’ve been delighted to be able to support Warwickshire Search and Rescue with funding to help both the purchase of the vehicle and its subsequent fit out. Policing regularly calls on the assistance of the lowland search teams for assistance in finding vulnerable missing persons, both on land and on our inland waterways. They provide skills, expertise and equipment that would not otherwise be readily available to Warwickshire Police, so Warwickshire SAR has been a very deserved recipient of my Grants Funding over several years.”

Photo credit: Warwickshire Search and Rescue team members with Emma Daniell, Deputy PCC and DCC Alex Franklin-Smith.