After successfully converting a police mobile camera van to an Incident Control vehicle, Hampshire Search and Rescue volunteers were blessed with good weather for the launch of this new vehicle, which will help assist police in providing 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 gave up over 280 hours of their own time to carry out the work. The project was overseen by Phil Harvey, who worked as a project manager before retiring and he is now the team’s Vice Chairman.
Tony Privett (HANTSAR Chairman) and Phil Harvey (HANTSAR Vice Chairman) opened the launch event. 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. ”
Before cutting the ribbon on the new vehicle, Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire added: “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.”
Present, were representatives from B&Q Hedge End and South Midlands Communications Ltd, two of the many local companies who kindly donated equipment or gave the team significant discounts on the vast range of electrical and other items needed to kit out the van. As well as a 10.5 metre radio mast for communicating with search teams out on the ground, the vehicle 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.
“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.”, shared Tony Privett.
Chief Inspector Mark Lewis (Joint Operations Unit), Inspector George White (Strategic and Tactical Operations Officer), and Sergeant Colin White (Police Search Advisor) were in attendance, on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary. Colin’s presence was especially welcomed as he was present at the very first meeting of HANTSAR, back in 2002.
The launch marks a milestone in the growth of the search and rescue team, as the new vehicle will enable HANTSAR to deploy search teams faster, therefore improving the likelihood of a successful outcome.
The Lowland team’s next project is to replace their 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.
Having received 425 callouts since their first callout in 2003, Hampshire Search and Rescue, which is composed solely of volunteers and operates 24/7, is now looking for a more centralised secure base near Winchester or Eastleigh, to help improve response times.
Hampshire Search and Rescue would like to thank the following companies for their help in this project: B&Q Hedge End – Dansach Electrical – Encon Insulation – Furneaux Riddall – HMS Marine Supplies – Marine Superstore – MegaVanMats – Mikuni Heating – NASA Marine – Newey & Eyre – P&I Generators – Reversing Cameras UK – Simply Split Charge – Solow Flooring – South Midlands Communications – Sterling Power – Southern Fire Protection.