What will being a member of HANTSAR involve?

HANTSAR is available for callout 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whilst we understand that work and family commitments are priorities you should be willing to make every effort to respond to callouts and training whenever possible. Callouts may occur while you are at work, home or in the middle of the night. Callouts can occur while you are asleep and you may still have to attend work the following day. Fortunately, many employers will make allowances for employees who provide emergency services to their community. However, it is your responsibility to discuss your search and rescue duties with your employer to check whether it is possible to leave work during your normal working hours. If your employer does not support your search and rescue activities, that is not a problem but we would expect a reasonable degree of availability from you after work and on your days off.

You should bear in mind that joining HANTSAR will not only require a degree of sacrifice from you but also from your family, friends and employer. Please make sure you are being fair to them before you join HANTSAR. If you already have a busy lifestyle with little free time on your hands, you should probably reconsider joining. While the time commitment varies, you can generally count on spending at least two evenings a month training in order to maintain and improve your competence in the skills and techniques needed to be an efficient searcher. This is on top of any callouts we may respond to.

While we recognise you will not always be available, your lifestyle, work, and other commitments should be somewhat flexible to allow you to participate in searches. Members should be able to attend at least 50% of the activities to maintain proficiency in the wide variety of skills needed to be an active member of the unit.

You will be on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and should be able to respond to a search within one hour. Your time at a search will vary depending on the location and circumstances of the search and your own commitments.

However, we do NOT expect you to be able to attend EVERY callout and training session! We do realise that you are volunteering your time and that you do have a life outside search and rescue. All we ask is that you are honest with us and yourself as to how much time you can devote to HANTSAR.

Most of our callouts involve looking for missing persons in both rural and urban areas primarily in the Hampshire area but at times providing support in adjacent areas. A number of those searches may occur during the night and in inclement weather. This requires members to have a reasonable endurance and to feel comfortable in the great outdoors even at night and in bad weather conditions. Searching can be very rewarding but also very draining, both physically and emotionally.

All new members will be subject to an enhanced DBS check. It is important to HANTSAR and the police forces we work for that all our members are of sound character and show good judgement in their personal conduct. Members will often be involved in sensitive situations and come into contact with vulnerable people such as the elderly and children. This requires trust and the ability to respect confidentiality.

As a member of a search and rescue unit you should be aware that there will be times when you may find a missing person in distressing circumstances.

Members must own a mobile telephone as SMS (text messaging) is our primary means of callout. We use an automated system that can send a text message containing a lot of pertinent information to all our members within a few seconds. We also ask that you try to ensure your mobile telephone is always switched on and in credit so you can respond promptly to callouts.

Members are also asked to participate in non-search activities such as fund raising, equipment maintenance, organisation, training, social meetings and other special events. The unit has to maintain its equipment, organise its own administration and continually improve its abilities, knowledge and techniques. Not everyone has to be involved in everything but everyone is expected to be involved in something.