What we do

What we do


Each team member is highly trained in the skills required to be an effective searcher.  This is so much more than simply walking around with your eyes open and is a highly developed and active skill.  Pioneering research work on search techniques has been carried out by members and developed by the team.  These techniques are now in use and are common practice in mountain rescue in the UK and internationally.  For more information on this important research see the Centre for Search Research.

Search Management

Every incident must be managed and co-ordinated.

The police initiate a call out by contacting the Team Leader. The Team Leader will collect details from the police and will make an Urgency Analysis.

From the urgency analysis the decision to call the team out or put on stand by is made; this is instigated by the Team Leader and communicated to all team members through our SMS callout system.

If a call out is initiated a rendezvous (R.V.) point is identified and passed to all team members who will respond directly to that location.  Available team response drivers will be identified and tasked to collect vehicles and equipment from our base in Pegswood Community Fire Station.

Incident Commanders, known as The Overhead Team, will assemble at the R.V. and begin to put together a search plan based on the known information and last known point or the last point seen of the missing person.

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The search plan will be fine tuned using the UK Missing Person Behaviour Study documentation. This information enables the missing person to be categorised and provides guidance on appropriate search tactics. Of course local knowledge is very helpful also. The parameters of the search area will be set and then broken down into smaller manageable areas known as Search Sectors.

Team members and search dogs will arrive at the R.V. and be put into Search Groups. Search groups will be deployed in to higher priority search sectors first.

As new information becomes available the search plan will evolve. New priority areas may be identified as needing urgent attention.

The Team leader can call on other resources or assets
to assist with the incident. These include:

  • SARDA dog handlers from other teams within the region.
  • NESRA teams.
  • HM Coastguard Search & Rescue helicopter.
  • The Air Ambulance
  • The Police helicopter.
  • RAF Leaming Mountain Rescue Team.

When a search group makes a 'Find', resources need directing to the Find Site - medics, equipment, extra personnel. Should the medic on site determine an urgent evacuation, the Team Leader will request the assistance of air support. Otherwise the casualty is extracted by the team to the nearest road and transferred to a county ambulance.

To make all these resources work successfully requires good management and co-ordination. Vital to the success of the operation is good communications. This is achieved through our radio network, which keeps search groups and other resources in contact with the Team Leader and Incident Commanders.

Where do we control an incident from?

Covering such a large area is a problem and we are unable to have a fixed base as many teams do: therefore to enable effective control of an incident we rely on local Police Stations, other community buildings such as village halls or schools and we have a mobile Incident Control Trailer, pulled to the incident by one of our Landrovers.

Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA)

Where large areas of land need to be searched it is a great advantage to have at your disposal the skills of a search and rescue dog and handler. For the team Brian Allport and his search dog Tess provide this vital asset. They are also members of The Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA).

Tess operates by air scenting the casualty rather than tracking like Police dogs do.  She is able to locate casualties even in the most hostile of conditions such as heavy snow, rain, fog, darkness and even through water.

Once Tess has found the casualty she will indicate to his handler Brian. She will then lead Brian to the casualty. It's not all down to Tess as Brian and her are a team.  It's down to Brian to work the dog through a search area efficiently and effectively. To reach this level of understanding, between handler and dog, takes a long time training and must be constantly practiced.

It takes a minimum of two years to fully train a dog up to full search dog status.  Once fully trained the dog and handler are regularly assessed to ensure that they maintain the very high standards expected.

During the two year training period, the dog and handler will travel to many of the mountainous and wild areas of the U.K. This is to gain knowledge of the
differing types of terrain they may be required to work in; because once a dog
and handler are fully graded they can be called to assist teams throughout England and Wales.

Technical Rescue

The team carries a wide range of technical rescue equipment and trains regularly in its use.  This equipment is used to effect the safe recovery of casualties from difficult terrain ranging from steep and uneven ground to vertical rock faces.


Helicopter Operations

The team can call upon the assistance of several different helicopter assets including the HM Coastguard S-92 and AW-189, the Air Ambulance and the Police helicopter.  All team members are fully trained in safe helicopter operations including identifying safe landing zones (LZ's), safe access and egress, including winch operations and emergency procedures.

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Latest News

  • Cheviots Challenge 2021 - Thank you

    posted on 9th September 2021

    Many thanks to everyone that took part in the Cheviots Challenge event on Saturday. Thanks to all of you who have been in touch to say how much you enjoyed the challenge event. We enjoyed seeing you all on the day and it was great to see so many smiling faces at the end.