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They were wet cold and hopelessly lost. In the fading light and driving
rain one man could just make out the fearful, pained expression in his brother-in-laws
face. In the total blackness, gale force winds and near Artic temperatures, they
tried to take bearings but gentle becks had become loud, raging torrents. They
seemed to be trapped. At 10pm a weak signal appeared on the mobile phone; a chance
to get help -a call to home, just a bit of information but the signal was lost.
At the Rescue Centre in Barnard Castle, Team Leader and Police worked urgently
to try and piece together the position of the men. Soon after midnight twenty
volunteers and their search dog Meg, were beginning to search, moving westwards
on both sides of the Tees and the Pennine Way from Cronkley. Seven hours later
team members were wading through the treacherous waters if Swarfbeck, trying to
keep sight of Meg's black and white marking as she lead the team to the missing
men. Everyone huddled together in a large survival tent as the men were treated
for hypothermia and a Sea King helicopter was summoned from RAF Boulmer.
The Searchers that night had
passed the spot where, in June 1968, a young man had slipped and drowned while
crossing Maize Beck - the event that led to the formation of the Search and Rescue
Team. Now many years later, the Team provides a highly skilled and efficient service
to those lost or endangered in the Dales. Increasingly the Team's skills in locating
vulnerable and missing people are being used by the police in areas away from
the uplands. However it is in the harsh, demanding conditions of the North Pennines
that the Team holds it monthly training to hone and develop the teamwork necessary
to provide its highly respected yet voluntary service.
Team members also
train on weekday evenings and the extent of skill and knowledge required of a
Team member has grown considerably in recent years.
In addition to the
core skills required to operate in such environments, Team members are trained
in casualty care, crag rescue techniques, communications, search techniques etc.
Many Team members adopt specialist interests and gain more advanced skills and
knowledge in areas such as casualty care, search management, crag rescue and river