Team members with the new vehicle. Photo: ASSAR

Team members with the new vehicle. Photo: ASSAR

A rescue team’s new high-tech vehicle has gone into service after a major fundraising effort.

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue’s incident control van became operational at the beginning of this month, allowing the team to co-ordinate rescues across its area.

The team’s vehicle officer Adrian Payne said: “This new incident control vehicle takes us to the cutting edge of being able to help people far from help.

“We have to be able to plan and coordinate search and rescue operations from a wide variety of locations. Typically we get called out to remote places in the middle of the night and have to be able to operate with no or limited support.

The vehicle has been fitted out with the latest technology. Photo: ASSAR

The vehicle has been fitted out with the latest technology. Photo: ASSAR

“It has been a huge fundraising effort from everyone and lots of time fitting the kit from fellow team members but we know this will help us become even more effective.”

The vehicle is a long wheel base VW Crafter. It has been fitted with the latest technology by specialists within ASSAR. To help plan searches and coordinate rescues the operational control area has a server, local area network and wi-fi connectivity; two docking stations and 24-inch monitors for Toughbook laptops loaded with computer mapping and software for administering a search and three of the latest digital radios and a wide range of charging points.

There is a planning area within the van for collaboration with other emergency services, welfare facilities to cater for ASSARs search specialists and a second bulkhead fitted to contain a caged unit for ASSARs search kit and stretchers.

Avon & Somerset Search and Rescue are the police’s chosen search and rescue resource in Avon and Somerset. Staffed by volunteers, it is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whatever the weather or time of day.

The team is called out around 35 times a year to find missing high-risk and vulnerable people. Members have been involved with high-profile cases such as Charlotte Bevan and Joanna Yeates in Avon Gorge along with many incidents in Cheddar Gorge and across the area.

More details about the team are on its website.