Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue (SULSAR) is a member unit of the UK’s Lowland Rescue service. Alongside Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue, the RNLI and Volunteer Coastguard, we form the backbone of specialist help for the emergency services when anyone is in need of assistance.
Lowland Rescue teams specialise in finding missing people using foot-teams and dog-teams, often over large areas of wilderness and without knowing where the person is to begin with.
Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue is a 100% voluntary specialist search team which helps the emergency services find missing vulnerable adults and children. We are on-call 24 hours a day, with a team of 60+ people to respond across Suffolk and surrounding areas. SULSAR is a registered charity and therefore we rely solely on donations and sponsorship. Although members are volunteers they require specialist equipment and therefore donations are vital.
Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue is a registered charity, and receives no funding from government or the emergency services – we are wholly reliant on donations and grants from industry. All of our members are volunteers, and none of them are paid for their time, fuel or expenses.
We are normally called out by Suffolk Constabulary, but we also respond to calls from the Fire service and other search teams in neighbouring counties.
“The Team” well what can we say… they range from lorry drivers, accountants, paramedics, police officers, warehouse personnel to teachers and people who are retired. All team members are ready for the callout 24-7!
We have approx 60 active members on the callout list. To become an active member we require members to attend at least 8 training sessions per year, each training session lasts an average of 4 hours. Of our active members 13 are trained as Team Leaders, and all are trained in First Aid.
We have trained Search Managers who can manage all aspects of a search We also have Search Planners who have a very specific role in deciding where the missing person is most likely to be.
Its the job of the Search Managers, and Search Planners to assess the search event and decide whether to call out the members, run the search, select teams, and decide on areas to be searched and to liaise with Police.
We have several specialist teams, trained to use different equipment and environments from Mountain Bike and Bank Search Teams (bank teams for working along river banks that require specialist PPE and training to safely conduct searches) We also have a Flood First Responders team trained to work in and on the water for both searches and flood response.
A call out can happen at any time of the day or night.
Each incident is an emergency (as far as the missing person is concerned), and a lot needs to be done before the team hits the ground.
Once the planners or managers decide on a search plan, available members are formed up into search teams of 4 (this number is the ideal minimum, but teams can be bigger or smaller depending on circumstances). Each team has a team leader, a radio operator, a team medic and a navigator.The teams are allocated search areas, and the team leader will analyse the situation and deploy the team members in the most effective way. All the teams are in touch with the search base by radio, and each team member has a personal radio for inter-team communication.
The teams spend an average of 2 hours progressing their allocated search sector, perhaps then returning to base to rest and report any relevant information. Teams will be allocated further search areas by the search manager/controller, depending on the situation and circumstances of the search.
Search duration can vary considerably, ranging from a couple of hours to several days. As a consequence, search team resources need to be flexible. One way to accomplish this is by having a pool of members to call on at any given time – members can give what time they can on a rotating basis, allowing a search to continue as long as necessary.
If you are interested in joining the team – go to the Join The Team link.