“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Calls for Public Donations to Help Fund New Incident Control Unit

Vehicle urgently needed to support lost and despondent people on the moor and in the towns and city

Okehampton, Devon, 12 October 2022 – North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team is facing one of the biggest funding challenges of its 53-year life. To replace its aging Incident Control Unit, the Team needs to raise £65,000 over the coming months. With no chance of the existing 20-year-old vehicle passing its next MOT, the clock is ticking on a project to replace and upgrade the Incident Control Unit, so the Rescue Team has set up an online crowd funding facility which enables members of the public and local businesses to contribute to this Herculean fund-raising challenge.

Although it is coordinated by the emergency services, North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team is a registered charity and is 100% dependent on donations from the public. The team excels during extreme weather events when its intervention frequently saves lives.

Once commissioned, the new Incident Control Unit will provide one of the Southwest region’s most sophisticated mobile emergency service co-ordination, communication, and control facilities,

providing support for the Search and Rescue team, as well as Police and Fire & Rescue Services. The North Dartmoor Team’s operations spread far beyond the Moor: it operates across 700 square miles in Devon, of which only 100 square miles is on Dartmoor. The operational area stretches from Exeter to Bude and Launceston: last year, the Rescue Team responded to 33 callouts, 56 percent of which involved vulnerable and despondent people.

“While the original Incident Control Unit has served us well for over 20 years, it is essential that we replace it now with a new vehicle that is fit for purpose in the 21st Century,” commented Mick Burke, Equipment Officer at North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Service. “The new vehicle will offer significantly enhanced operational support services to our rescue teams, as well enabling us to coordinate seamlessly with Police, Ambulance, Coastguard and Fire & Rescue Services.

“The new vehicle will provide sufficient on-board workspace for two Mountain Rescue Operators and two Police Officers. It will employ the latest digital radio, mobile Wi-Fi and computer technologies. Housing all the medical equipment, stretchers and mountaineering equipment needed by our Team, it represents a fully equipped and superbly mobile support facility capable of operating in the wildest moor climates or equally in urban environments,” Mick Burke continued.

The new vehicle needs to be operational before next Spring, however the replacement task is not straightforward. Once the Team’s preferred Mercedes vehicle is purchased, it must go through a major technology installation and commissioning process. The vehicle will be fitted with a 10m antenna to increase radio range. Two Digital Base Station radio systems will monitor team channels and helicopter operating channels, and a further Analogue Base Station will operate inter team channels.

The vehicle will have mobile phone linked Wi-Fi connection over three different phone providers for best coverage. In addition, handheld Airwave radios will be employed for communication with Police and Fire & Rescue Service.

Three computer stations (1 x Police, 2 x Mountain Rescue) will be used for the control and management of teams on the ground. Links to the digital radio net provide automatic, continuous location information of deployed assets.

The vehicle will provide secure storage for team restricted medical equipment. A continuous 240- volt power supply supports prolonged deployments with a reserve back-up generator. Also, the vehicle will provide storage and charging facilities for 12 team radios and a deployable rebroadcasting back-pack to maintain communications in difficult, remote terrain. A Team Briefing Shelter will be provided by roof mounted awning.

“We are totally dependent on public donations and business support for our funding: in the past, we have benefitted from very generous public support, but never before has our need been as great or time critical as it is now,” stated Mick Burke. “We must ask people to dig deep and help us meet our fundraising target so we can continue to support our local community here in the Southwest.”

Donations to the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team can be given via its website – to donate, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/NDSARTControl