The speaker at our meeting on the 11th November 2021 was Tony Privett from Hampshire Search and Rescue (HANTSAR). HANTSAR is a voluntary organisation that works alongside the police and other agencies as required in searches for vulnerable missing persons. It was set up in late 2002 and currently has 117 members, all volunteers, of all ages – of these, 81 are operational and are on call 24/7, 365 days per year. Volunteers undergo regular training both in the classroom and outdoors – there are additional levels of training, for example, water training, mudflats and first responders who have medical training. Operational costs are £25,000 per year, and funds are obtained via grants and fund-raising. In 2011 HANTSAR was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the MBE for volunteer groups.
Hundreds of people go missing every year in Hampshire – the police are the first to be contacted, and they will perform the initial assessment of each case and assess whether the missing person is high risk and/or vulnerable. The police will then conduct a quick search of the immediate area – if this isn’t successful, they will then contact Search and Rescue. All members are contacted to see if they can attend the search. An operational room and team are then set up with the available volunteers. Technology is also playing a part in search and rescue, with drones now starting to be used for some searches.
There have been over 800 callouts in Hampshire since 2003, and so far this year, there have been 78. The highest number of callouts are for people who are suicidal or despondent – since the pandemic, these callouts have accounted for 60% of the total and more male than female.
Tony recounted one memorable search when a chap who couldn’t walk further than 100 meters with his Zimmer frame was found a couple of miles away and it remains a mystery of how he got there, but he was safely rescued.
It is also important to have a bit of information about the missing person – Tony told us of a lady who went missing and when trying to work out where she would go it was discovered her husband had died recently and she had gone to the church where he was buried.
Following a similar case a few years ago, a new initiative was set up called “Herbert’s Protocol” - this is a national scheme that encourages carers, family and friends to provide and put together useful information, which can then be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing. The form is available on the internet on the Hampshire Search and Rescue or Hampshire Constabulary webpages.
This was a very interesting talk and I for one was not aware that this organisation existed and carried out such an important role in conjunction with the police.
Our meetings for the next few months are:
Thursday 9th December 2021: Christmas Party!! Seasonal quiz and social – please bring your own glass
Thursday 13th January 2022: Chair Yoga – find out the benefits of doing some gentle exercise from the comfort of your chair
Thursday 10th February 2022: Michael Kenning talking about Jane Austen
If you are interested in joining us at one of our Meetings, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org