ASSAR Condolences to Family of Missing Mother and Baby Found in Avon Gorge

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue (ASSAR) would like to pass on their condolences to the family and friends of Charlotte Bevan and her daughter Zaani Tiana Bevan Malbrouck during this very difficult time.

Avon and Somerset Police requested the support of ASSAR on the evening of Wednesday 3rd December for a technical search of the cliff face in Avon Gorge. Team members, along with the police rope access team, worked until 3am on Thursday and then returned at 10am to resume the search. The team found the baby child on Thursday afternoon.

Duncan Massey, chair of Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue said; “We are very proud to have been able to use our specialist skills to assist the police with being able to draw this incident to a close. This was a particularly difficult and harrowing search due to the nature of the incident. All of the team members involved are being supported by the wider team.”

Posted on 05 / 12 / 2014

Grant for ASSAR after Somerset floods

On the night of February 6th 2014 ASSAR was called to the village of Moorland on the Somerset Levels. The team was called as there was a threat to life from the rising flood water. ASSAR personnel worked alongside the other emergency services to move local people, their pets and farm animals to safe areas. You can read the full callout details here.

ASSARs new drysuit and buoyancy aid required after the Somerset flooding in February 2014.

ASSARs new drysuit and buoyancy aid required after the Somerset flooding in February 2014.

One consequence of this evening was the pollutants in the flood water effecting the seals on the teams dry suits. Thanks to a grant from the Bellwin scheme that provided emergency financial assistance during and after the flooding in Somerset ASSAR has now taken delivery of new dry suits and buoyancy aids.

ASSAR is being called to an increasing number of water related incidents over the last few years. The amount of training in this area has had to increase in parallel. ASSAR now has a dozen Swiftwater Rescue & Flood Technicians and a qualified instructor in the team.

Following on from the widespread floods the Somerset Emergency Voluntary Agencies Group won the Voluntary Sector Award 2014 at the Emergency Planning Society Awards Ceremony. ASSAR is pleased to have played a timely role in the overall voluntary effort and congratulates the other agencies.

Posted on 04 / 10 / 2014

Police Cadets Practice Search and Rescue

Police cadets from North Somerset have spent two evening training sessions in preparation for a large search and rescue exercise with ASSAR. The exercise took place on Sunday 6th July at Sandford Quarry.ASSAR_Police_cadets_North_Somerset_carrying a stretcher

Their learning was put to the test with an exercise involving finding clues, working out the direction of travel of a missing person, searching difficult ground, locating the casualty and moving them to a safe location. The cadets were expected to show their search skills, effective communication between each other and ‘control’, leadership and planning.

The cadets did extremely well finding the casualty quickly using their skills and swiftly moving him to a place of safety. ASSAR members were so impressed they invited the cadets to join the rest of the team who were carrying out an exercise in the same location. The cadets then got to work alongside full team members.

Our thanks to the cadets and PC Ray Bradley for their enthusiasm. Thanks also to Mendip Snowsport Centre for allowing use of their land for the exercise.

Posted on 09 / 07 / 2014

HSBC Discover Search and Rescue

Members of ASSAR were delighted to introduce HSBC staff to the world of search and rescue on Saturday 28th June. The staff from the Wells and Shepton Mallet branches had raised an amazing £900 for ASSAR. The staff learnt how searching is different from looking, how to load and move a  casualty in a vacuum mattress. Despite a brief storm nothing stopped them from getting stuck in. Thanks again to HSBC and the staff members involved.

Adam Brooke from HSBC hands over a fundraising cheque for £900 to ASSAR

Adam Brooke from HSBC hands over a fundraising cheque for £900 to ASSAR

HSBC staff learn how to load and move a stretcher with members of ASSAR.

HSBC staff learn how to load and move a stretcher with members of ASSAR.

Posted on 30 / 06 / 2014

Royal Visit to Cheddar Gorge

Members of ASSAR were presented to Edward and Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex today in Cheddar Gorge. ASSAR were given the chance to explain their technical rescue role in the gorge for climbers and tourist and their wider search and rescue role in Avon and Somerset. Duncan Massey, ASSARs Chairman accompanied the royal party on an open top bus through the gorge with Martin Crocker, local climbing champion and BMC rep, who has helped climbing stay an integral part of the gorge.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visiting Cheddar Gorge today.

Earl and Countess of Wessex visiting Cheddar Gorge and Caves today.

ASSAR_Viscount Weymouth

Bob Montgomery, Chief Executive of Longleat, Viscount Weymouth and Viscountess Weymouth meet ASSAR Chairman Duncan Massey at Cheddar Gorge today.

Posted on 09 / 06 / 2014

Family Fundraising

The parents of Shaun Pearce recently held a fundraising dinner dance to help ASSAR as a thanks for saving him. Shaun Pearce was helped by ASSARs co-responder when he was trapped under a tractor with life-threatening injuries near the Chew Valley Lake.

Tony and Helen Court, Shaun’s parents, have run ‘fund raisers’ on behalf of the team. This year they held a ‘dinner dance’ in Shipham village hall, which wasASSAR fundraising hugely successful. The dinner dance was attended by five team members. A total of approximately £2000 was raised, the funds being shared with the Alzheimer’s society.

All members of ASSAR are extremely grateful for this fundraising effort and are pleased Shaun is well again.

Posted on 09 / 06 / 2014

ASSAR assist with technical rescue from Wells Cathedral

ASSAR was called today to assist with the technical rescue of a woman who had fallen and become trapped on the roof of Wells Cathedral. Full callout details are here. This image was taken by a member of ASSAR showing RAF Seaking 169 winching the injured woman to safety.

RAF Seaking above Wells Cathedral during the rescue of a trapped woman. Image courtesy: Alan George.

Posted on 29 / 04 / 2014

Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technicians

For the past two weekends members of ASSAR have been training hard to gain their Swiftwater and Flood Rescue Technician status, for some this was a re-certification. We are pleased to announce that all passed.

The course covers a wide range of awareness and practical techniques including the following;

  • swiftwater swimming techniques
  • tethered rescues
  • rope anchor systems
  • tensioned rope techniques
  • river and flood area search

Members of the team visited the National White Water Centre in North Wales to learn and practice the swiftwater techniques while staying in the North Somerset area for the rest. Our thanks to Mendip Outdoor Pursuits and Swallet Farm for providing the training venues.

The course is provided and certified by Rescue 3 Europe who are internationally recognised and form the core training for rescue teams and emergency services around the world. In the UK this particular course forms part of the Defra Flood Rescue Concept of Operations, follow this link to view the document

ASSARs Team Leader is a qualified Rescue 3 instructor, leading to a high level of understanding and awareness amongst the team, alongside the operational experience.

ASSAR Swiftwater Rescue Technicians

ASSAR Swiftwater Rescue Technicians

Posted on 14 / 04 / 2014

Navigation Awards

The great outdoors can be explored freely and safely when you know where you are, where you are going and how you’ll get there. Good navigation skills are important for enjoying any area of the countryside from urban fringe to mountains. Excellent navigation skills are crucial for members of search and rescue teams.

Each search party will have an allocated navigator but all members are expected to be able to navigate to a competent level. ASSAR members have adopted the National Navigational Award Scheme as a standard competency level. Several ASSAR members achieved their silver awards recently with other members and aspirants working towards their certification. Our thanks to ASSARs navigation trainers for organising the assessments.

ASSAR navigation assessment while enduring hail, sleet and snow around Mendip.

ASSAR navigation assessment while enduring hail, sleet and snow around Mendip.

The Silver award syllabus is as follows:

  • Devise a strategy for a navigational stage, to break it down into ‘coarse’ and ‘fine’ navigation and to use clear features en route to check that you are ‘on course’.
  • Understand and apply the following components of a navigational strategy ‘aiming off’, ‘attack points’, ‘collecting features’, simplifying navigation, and apply them in varying terrain.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of contour features, both large and small, on the map and on the ground.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the navigation physical and factors affecting route choice.
  • Judge distance accurately on the map and on the ground.
  • Plan a safe walk or route involving Silver award skills and strategies.
  • Employ simple relocation strategies when lost.
  • Use a compass to follow accurate bearings and to check the direction of footpaths or other linear features on both map and ground.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the effects of fatigue and physical discomfort brought on by navigating in demanding countryside and/or extreme weather condition. Knowledge of basic first aid is also expected.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and application of the Countryside Code and current access legislation as for the Bronze level together with an appreciation of basic environmental factors in mixing ‘man with nature’ (e.g. footpath erosion and methods of dealing with it), and responsibilities towards other countryside interests like farming, forestry and conservation.

For more details visit the National Navigation Award Scheme website.

Posted on 10 / 02 / 2014

ASSAR Receives Donation from Incredible Fundraiser

ASSAR was privileged to receive a cheque from a very special fundraiser. Sarah Williams from has setSarah Williams, Smiling Eyes Internationalherself the challenge of completing 150 tasks to raise £150 for 150 different charities! To make this an even more incredible achievement Sarah is almost blind.

Sarah went white water rafting in Brecon, Wales to raise £150 which she very kindly donated to ASSAR. We will be using this money to help buy a flood raft to help with water rescues. Everyone in ASSAR would like to extend their thanks to Sarah and wish her well in her fundraising efforts.

Posted on 20 / 01 / 2014