10 July 2017
An exercise to test the emergency response to finding missing people took place in Holt Heath Nature Reserve on Friday 7 July 2017.
Specially trained officers, the NPAS helicopter, Dorset Search and Rescue, Wessex 4x4 and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service all took part in the exercise, which ran as a 'live play' scenario. This meant personnel acting as though the exercise was for real.
The 16 police officers involved had been on a week-long specialist training course to become Lost Person Search Managers to further improve the police's capability for finding missing people and the exercise saw their learning put into practice.
The exercise consisted of two scenarios. In the morning the teams were deployed following a report that an injured person had gone missing in the heath. The afternoon scenario involved a vulnerable person who had gone missing in a wooded area.
In both cases the teams worked together to plan and co-ordinate the search and kept in contact by using airwave radios. Both missing people were found following extensive searches.
Superintendent Mike Rogers, of Dorset Police, said: "We use 'live play' exercises such as this to test the response of police officers and other colleagues to major incidents. They give us an opportunity to test our plans and resilience and ensure our staff are up-to-date with the latest practice. This was a joint training exercise with alliance colleagues from Devon and Cornwall Police.
"The way the scenario is set up is so that colleagues do not know what they will face in advance. This makes their response as real as it can be.
"I would like to give special thanks to all the other agencies involved including the fire service, the NPAS helicopter, the invaluable volunteers from Wessex 4x4 and Dorset Search and Rescue and to the National Trust for their permission to run the exercise on Holt Heath."
For more information about Dorset Search and Rescue or Wessex 4x4 Response and how to get involved visit http://www.dorsar.org.uk/ or https://www.wessex4x4response.org.uk/
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