VCSA Member Feature: West Mercia Search and Rescue

 West Mercia Search and Rescue - Saving Lives in Shropshire

A child with learning difficulties missing from school

An 85-year-old dementia sufferer walked out of the home

 A potential suicide with a lonely cry for help left in a parked car

Did you know that when someone goes missing in Shropshire, it is a voluntary organisation that will search for them?

It is the mission of West Mercia Search and Rescue (WMSAR) to search for, locate and rescue vulnerable adults and children. They are a completely volunteer charity with trained team members, vehicles, boats and equipment ready to respond from their Bridgnorth and Kidderminster bases.

Team members take between 4-6 months to qualify as a Search Technician. Training in First Aid, Navigation, Search Skills, Radio Communications, Crime Scene Awareness and Basic Water Safety, this is the first step on the ladder to a whole series of specialist functions. Later qualifications might lead to using Quad Bikes, Drones, Power Boats, Search Planning and Management and Swift Water and Flood Rescue.

And like other voluntary sector organisation in Shropshire, WMSAR is top class at what they do.Their work has been recognized by the High Sheriff of Shropshire’s Award for “great and valuable services to the community and the appreciation of the people of Shropshire for activity enhancing the life of the community”

This was followed with the award of the Shropshire Community Foundation Award as “Outstanding Community Group/Organisation” as well as an Armed Forces Covenant Silver Award.

Last year, the organisation received the highest honour available to a registered charity in the UK – the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and 31 members of the team received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.

WMSAR's operational area covers 1.2 million people in 3 counties that have the River Severn at their heart. It is a sign of our times that more and more of their call-outs are tasking to find people who are at risk in, on or near water. They are frequently called out to people last seen near the river on busy “party nights”.

But it’s not just water based. They respond to the West Mercia Police covering emergency incidents, searches and rescues throughout Shropshire but also in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, as well as supporting neighbouring teams as required.  Lowland Rescue is called out by the emergency services when a vulnerable person, whose safety is at much higher risk than normal, is in dire need of specialist help.

What's more, WMSAR offer a free, on-line, water safety course called Home and Dry.  

Check out the WMSAR website for more information about what they do and how you can get involved.

WMSAR and QAVS logos