How long have you been in the team?
I have been a member of NEWSAR (and its previous incarnation Clwyd Rescue Team) for about 33 years. (Editors note… yep 33 years, you did read that right!)
What have you learned while being a member?
I am currently an operational team member, Search Manager and First Responder and also an elected Trustee but have undertaken many other roles over the years including Secretary and Deputy Team Leader.
Having been a team member for so long, I have seen many changes. When I was first called out it was through a phone tree, then pagers and now it’s by text and email. Our first team vehicle was a trailer which was used as Control, now we have a dedicated control vehicle, two Landrovers and a vehicle for water equipment. Clothing has changed considerably too. The first team jumper was a navy woolly jumper, now we have “proper” top to toe kit.
The one thing that hasn’t changed though, and always makes me so proud to be a NEWSAR volunteer, despite the disagreements (as happens in all kinds of teams), is the way we all come together Cont…. to help a stranger in need, regardless of the situation, time of day and weather.
People are often surprised to hear that we don’t just get called out to mountain incidents. We do a lot in the community too. It could be to assist the emergency services during snow or flood events or search for missing people with dementia or who want to harm themselves.
Worst and best aspects of being in the team.
Throughout all these, I have experienced “good” callouts, where casualties are happy to see us and we are able to give medical assistance and help get them off the hill. I have experienced “bad” ones too. We might have been too late to help, or I don’t really understand how or why an incident happened. The thing I struggle with most though is meeting family members as a search manager and not being able to give them the outcome that they want most of all. There is the small comfort that we have helped bring some sort of closure though.
The time commitment for a NEWSAR volunteer is huge. In addition to the callouts, we have weekly training sessions, regular fundraising events and then there are the background roles that are rarely acknowledged. These can include Topic Groups who create our standard operating procedures and carry out training in various areas, those who keep our equipment, vehicles and base in tip top condition, the Ops and Trustees who keep the team on course and those who represent NEWSAR across North Wales and nationally.