Our members make their own way from wherever they are to attend callouts. Occasionally it is possible to arrange to car share with fellow members who live nearby but cannot be guaranteed due to people’s differing availability. Therefore it is normally required, once you are qualified and join the search team, that you have your own transport.
HANTSAR is firmly committed to diversity in all areas of its operations. We believe that we can learn and profit from diverse cultures and perspectives and that diversity will make our organisation more effective in meeting the needs of our members and those we search for.
We are committed to developing and maintaining an organisation in which differing ideas, abilities, backgrounds and needs are fostered and valued and where those with diverse backgrounds and experiences are able to participate and contribute.
We will regularly evaluate and monitor our progress towards diversity.
People require our assistance in all types of terrain, seasons, weather conditions and times of the day. It is therefore imperative that each member has the proper clothing, equipment and food to contribute positively to search activities. Effectiveness requires that the searcher remains safe and comfortable at all times. Proper equipment ensures that the team can concentrate on finding the missing person or object rather than taking care of improperly equipped members.
The below is a typical equipment list required for operational members of the team. We provide each member with around £200 worth of personal equipment for use during membership.
Provided by HANTSAR
- Hi-vis Class 3 jacket
- ID badge
- Red polo shirts
- Waterproof jacket
- Softshell jacket
- First aid kit contents
- Walking boots, waterproof
- Waterproof trousers
- Rucksack/belt kit etc.
- Good quality Silva type compass e.g. Ranger 3
- Good quality torch with spare batteries LED type bulb
- Spare torch and batteries
- Note book (A6 size is ideal), pens, pencils.
- Snack food e.g. cereal bars/mint cake
- Personal First Aid kit
- Mobile telephone
- Gloves, gardening type
- Map case or similar
A search begins when someone contacts their local police with a problem and the police determine that they require additional assistance. The police obtain this additional assistance by contacting the volunteer search and rescue unit in their immediate area. A callout for the local search and rescue unit is initiated and members start heading out to an agreed rendezvous point.
Once at the rendezvous point, a command post and base of operations is set up. This base of operations is staffed by a search manager, communications co-ordinator (responsible for radio communication) and the searchers. Once the base of operations is in place, the search can begin. Searchers sign in and are divided up into teams (groups of around 3-6 searchers). A team leader is assigned to each team. He/she attends a briefing with the search manager to determine the area their team will be covering and to receive important information such as a description of the missing person, where they were last seen, the direction they were heading, important behavioural information about them and any other relevant information.
The teams are then dispatched to their areas where they begin searching and looking for the missing person or any clues that might point them in the right direction. There are two outcomes: either the missing person is found and evacuation is initiated or, having completed the search of their allocated area, the team reports back to the search manager for re-assignment.
The final search step is a debriefing. The first part of the debriefing process is an operational debriefing. This is usually held in two stages, an immediate debriefing of events and an organised meeting at a later time to go over procedures and determine how things could be made more efficient. A stress debriefing may be held if there is psychological stress caused as a result of the search.
HANTSAR cannot function without dedicated volunteers. We need people who want to learn the skills needed to perform in this role. In HANTSAR, there is a place for anyone with a desire to help.
People wishing to be associated with HANTSAR and to be involved in some of its activities but NOT as operational searchers, may apply for support membership. This usually applies to those who wish to be involved in events and fund raising activities or who can offer a specialist skill required by the unit.
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Throughout your membership you will receive training in search techniques, search theory, first aid, navigation, health and safety, knowledge of search subject behaviour, incident assessment, scenes of crime problems and personal preparedness.
As you progress you may be encouraged to train as a Team Leader and possibly a Search Planner and/or Search Operations Manager.
We provide a uniform (polo shirts, jackets and hi vis jacket) and ID card. If you do not have any clothing/outdoor equipment you will need to equip yourself to the standard required by HANTSAR. See the Personal Equipment List FAQ for more details. You will be expected to have most of the core equipment after a few months. You must have all the equipment prior to going on searches. HANTSAR will provide items such as radios, advanced first aid kit and any personal protection equipment that may be required.
Membership costs are currently £15 a year, and there is a fee for the training course to become operational.
Members have to pay their own travel costs for training and callouts. Unfortunately we are unable to reimburse travel expenses.
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.
HANTSAR members can come from any walk of life be it a doctor, teacher, scientist, fireman, university student, factory worker, lawyer, hairdresser, anyone! It does not matter what you do, but rather who you are. The spirit of search and rescue is the driving force. It is this diversity of searchers that gives HANTSAR its strength. It is the broad knowledge base of members that provides for different ways to deal with search and rescue situations. Search and rescue requires dedicated people who work with integrity, tenacity and commitment to find and assist the missing person.
The only requirement to be considered for operational membership is that you are 18 or over and able to walk at least five miles in two hours.
HANTSAR is a registered charity that provides skilled volunteers, who are professionally trained in search techniques, emergency procedures and first aid to assist the police and other agencies with searches for vulnerable (such as children or the elderly) missing persons.