Summary by John Webb
The speaker this week was Al Hopkins of The Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue Service.
I had never heard of this organization until I met them at an Emergency Services open day that was arranged on Spiceball Park, Banbury in the summer months when covid precautions were eased.
I invited him to speak to our club which is when I learned they are a voluntary organization that is countrywide and split into local and regional groups.
The groups all possess members with skills in water rescue, search and rescue in woodland and open areas of landscape, first aid skills along with additional skills to facilitate their role as a lowland rescue organization.
The distinguishing features of this particular team is, as the name implies, that their brief, training, and skills are developed to search and rescue techniques for low land areas as opposed to hill and mountain rescue and water rescue in sea areas.
The speaker told us that the police are reluctant to search for missing persons until the time they are missing becomes critical because of medical issues with the missing person or provable suspected injury. Failing this, the missing person is deemed to be “non urgent” and Lowland Rescue is asked to assist.
A fair number of missing persons are those with dementia who have wandered off from residential care and go to a familiar place such as a local pub or a house where they used to live. However, some wander off and get lost having no idea where they are which places them in danger of walking into deep water or into traffic where the result could be serious.
Al told us that all kit, vehicles, clothing, and sundries such as bandages and stretchers are supplied by public donation, “tin rattling” in town centres, and some medical supplies sponsors, so the organization is always on the lookout for donations to this operation, although the public perceive them to be fully funded like other emergency services, which is not the case!
Once again, we had a speaker of merit who informed us about an organization which is taken for granted in an emergency should we ever require it, and one that would be worthy of our support as a local necessity, especially with the amount of senior persons homes and the elderly population of the town.