A day out with the Staffordshire Search & Rescue Team

SSART vehicles
Saturday 3rd Dec 2016

MTA members were welcomed at the Staffordshire Search and Rescue Team base by Rob Messenger, search dog Penny and his SSART colleagues. Rob led a lively, informative and very amusing presentation on the work of the team. SSART is run by volunteers, funded by donation. They give up an enormous amount of time and do not benefit from the ‘kit deals’ that MRT attract.

A key difference between Lowland SART and the better known Mountain Rescue Teams is that the latter generally rescue people who have a rough idea where they are and who want to be found whilst the lowland teams are usually called out a few days after someone has gone missing, mostly search in woodland and heathland areas and are looking for people who often don’t want to be found. As a result, they use behavioral psychology to work out, based on the last known position, the route that the missing person may have taken. In many cases this has proved to be very effective. Did you know that a dementia sufferer, if right handed, will almost always turn right, then right, then right etc, and opposite for a left handed person, or that suicides rarely stray more than 10 metres from a path?

After a look at the kit and equipment we moved to Cannock Chase to get stuck into some practical sessions.
SSART stretcher scenario
After a quick first aid refresher, MTA members were set the task of finding a 'body' out on the Chase. A general area of search was identified and the team spread out ... could they find the body in a cleared area of forest now regenerating in scrub and with light fading, or not? After about 20 minutes, not impressed by the fact that the team had not spotted the body as they passed close by, Rob decided to let search dog Penny show off her skills. Less than 30 seconds later she had found the ‘body’ with ease.

Our next task was equally challenging. After watching Penny show off her skills again, finding another SSART member hidden in dense undergrowth, MTA members joined in the ‘rescue’ and a 20 minute stretcher carry through undulating deciduous woodland in the dark – it was great fun and very challenging.

Sue Manns

MTA West Midlands Regional Coordinator


SSART presentation SSART rescue scenario