Police use Dartmoor for emergency missing persons training

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

More than 200 police officers, emergency service crew and volunteers have been taking part in missing persons training on Dartmoor.

It is the first time in more than a year the rescue teams have been able to train together because of the restrictions during the pandemic.

Volunteer rescue groups have also struggled to run their own training sessions following a drop in fundraising efforts.

Devon and Cornwall Police led the six square kilometer course at Haytor running scenarios such as walkers who had been missing overnight, a walker with a suspected heart attack, children found without their parents and a trapped climber.

The exercise was designed to test police officers at the end of their week-long training course on how they would work collaboratively with other rescue agencies.

Dartmoor Search and Rescue took part in the emergency service training exercise Credit: ITV West Country

PC Paul Kearton said the police can not successfully find missing people without the support of volunteer groups.

He said: "Devon and Cornwall police can't do this on their own, we're not trained or equipped to be able to search in their environment nor do we have the resources to.

"We always rely upon our volunteers from our search and rescue groups, mountain rescue teams, and coastguard teams. They [have] got the specialist skills and capability to do that."

Agencies involved in the training included HM Coastguard, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Teams, Cornwall Search and Rescue and Devon and Cornwall 4x4 Response.

Many of those charities behind these skilled volunteered have had their fundraising and training efforts hampered by the pandemic.

Shona Fernyhough has volunteered with the Ashburton branch of Dartmoor Search and Rescue for more than five years, she says it's been hard doing virtual training.

"It has restricted our training ability, so we've had long spells where we've not been able to train face to face but we have recently returned to face-to-face training which makes a huge difference."

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