Cornwall Search and Rescue Team is a registered charity which provides an inland search and rescue service for missing and injured people across Cornwall, at any time and in any weather.
Staffed entirely by volunteers and funded solely by the generosity of supporters, The Cornwall Search and Rescue Team was established in 2002 and the team has worked tirelessly to find countless missing people and save numerous lives in the county.
The team will respond to about 30-40 incidents a year, although our busiest years have taken us to over 60 incidents. A typical call out will last 2 hours for a simple evacuation from the moors or woodland, and searches can be anywhere from 1 hour to several days and nights, with each operational period normally lasting up to 8 hours. In the event of a call out, the Team Leader is contacted by the police, fire or ambulance services, and if we are required to respond, a text message is sent to all of the team. The majority of the call outs are “non mountain rescue” – searching for vulnerable missing people in rural locations.
We regularly work with our neighbouring teams from Dartmoor and Exmoor, as well as specialist resources from the Search and Rescue Dog Association. Find out more about their call outs here
The team currently has around 35 operational surface team members, based throughout Cornwall and they are all “on call” 24 hours a day. We also have an underground call out list, and a group of non operational members who assist with important support activities and roles.
Many of our members will be a combination of these by being available for call outs whilst also holding a position such as Team Secretary, Training Officer etc. Operational members who are interested in specific skills can specialise if they wish.
Typically, members will put in at least a dozen hours a week through training, call outs and support activities. All team members are highly trained and undergo minimum training periods and have to meet rigorous standards in personal, team and rescue skills and Casualty Care. These standards are set by Mountain Rescue – England and Wales, which is the coordinating body for the 60 other independent teams operating throughout England and Wales.
As a team, we deal with a wide range of call outs, each requiring specialist skills and equipment.
Missing and lost person searches
The team attends around 30 searches each year. Many of these will be for missing vulnerable people and will involve working alongside other emergency services. This forms the vast majority of the workload. Our search managers coordinate operations with the police, and some searches can last for days and involve numerous resources and dozens of searchers.
Equipped as a mountain rescue team, the ambulance service regularly calls on the team to assist with evacuations from remote moorland locations. These skills are also used during community events such as Bodmin Moor Ten Tors and moorland running events.
Cornwall’s industrial past is visible wherever you go, with iconic mine buildings and tourist attractions throughout the county. Below the surface however are miles of passages and shafts which attract explorers and enthusiasts. We are a member team of the British Cave Rescue Council, responding to a handful of incidents each year requiring very specialist skills and equipment such as air monitoring and rope access.
With flooding becoming increasingly common, the team has utilised its waterside searching skills in to an experienced swiftwater rescue team which has responded to flooding in urban areas across Cornwall.