Northamptonshire's 24/7 volunteer rescuers searching for help buying new 4x4 wheels
Charity targets £52,000 to fund new Mercedes land ambulance
Volunteers from Northamptonshire s Search and Rescue team have launched an appeal for county businesses to help them carry on saving lives.
The charity organisation is made up of 34 people giving up 5,000 hours a year, with three vehicles, one search dog and zero government funding to be on stand-by 24/7, 365 days a year answering calls for help from the county's blue-light services.
Police chiefs have the highly-trained rescuers on speed dial to help seek out vulnerable missing people over 760 square miles of flood plains, forests, fields, country parks, rivers and lakes.
Last weekend they carried out a search in water near Northampton, a water rescue in Thrapston and two searches for missing persons in Kettering and Earls Barton.
They were among the first on the scene to help evacuate homes when flooding hit the county earlier this year yet — like the Air Ambulance service — must rely solely on fundraising and donations to carry on their work.
The team currently has three vehicles — a new, state-of-the-art Incident Control Unit based in Northampton plus a 4x4 pick-up and a 4x4 ambulance, both stationed in Wellingborough.
But the need to replace the oldest of the vehicles spawned plans for an upgrade.
Search manager Neil Balderson said: "We've been working on a new design for some time with the aim to create a bespoke technical rescue vehicle suited to the charity's needs, based on a Mercedes-Benz AWD Sprinter.
"This will be converted to allow transport of team members, equipment and hold the potential for transporting a stretcher-based casualty."
The bill for that, however, is likely to hit in the region of £52,000.
That is some commitment for a team that gives its time for nothing — often answering multiple calls for help in the middle of the night — and has to pay for kit for themselves and everything to keep rescue dog Ted in treats and vet’s bills.
They currently have nine volunteers plus three more of the four-legged variety all going through a highly-specialised training programme to bolster the team.
Operating costs for a year add up to around £14,000.
Neil added: "We have already had success! We want to say a huge thanks to Stephen Mold for an amazing donation of just over £8,200 from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner's office.
"He has been a staunch supporter of the team and the work we do for many years.
"We have also had a great donation from the National Lottery Community Fund of just over £7,400. This is a great start and the team is looking at more grants too.
"We are already fortunate enough to be supported by some great companies and businesses — some are large companies; others are local businesses. Either way, we are grateful for their support.
"But we really need help to spread the word so if anyone knows of a company or philanthropic organisation that can help, please get in touch via [email protected]"
■ Northants SAR’s fund-raising page is available for donations and campaigns from supporters HERE.