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Callouts 2017

Displaying items by tag: river dart

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 13:16

Missing person found after social media appeal.

Missing person found after social media appeal.

Callout 02 / 2018 - 18:20  8th January 2018

Our team of volunteers were called out at 18:20 on the 8th January to search areas around Buckfastleigh, including the deployment of our water team specialists to search the River Dart to the south of Buckfastleigh. Teams were deployed along various stretches of the River Dart starting from the Salmon Leap weir near the Dart Bridge pub south towards Totnes, and in the Staverton area.

All team personnel were stood down around 23:00 after completing our search taskings with no further sight of the missing 49-year-old male. The intention being that we would hand over to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue personnel for a daytime search on the Tuesday.

Dartmoor search and rescue water team specialists after being deployed on the River Dart near Buckfastleigh

UPDATE Tuesday 9th January: 

A man who went missing from the Ashburton area has been found after presenting himself to Torbay Hospital earlier today and is now being supported by Police officers and medical professionals.

A team spokesman said: 'We hope the man receives the care he needs and makes a speedy recovery.'

Published in Callouts 2018

River Dart Kayaker trapped by partially submerged tree

CALLOUT 31 / 2017 - 10:05  7th DECEMBER 2017

Just after 10 am this morning, the team were called to assist at an incident where a kayaker had been reported as trapped under a tree whilst paddling in the Upper Dart Valley between Dartmeet and Newbridge.

Our volunteers, including our swift water rescue specialists, accompanied Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Devon and Cornwall Police and South West Ambulance Service to the location beside Bellpool Island up-river from Newbridge.

Map of incident location to recover kayaker

Unfortunately, it became apparent that despite the best efforts of his companions, the rescue had become a recovery operation as the kayaker was still in his upturned kayak, both of which were below the water line trapped beneath a partially submerged tree.

Our volunteers, working alongside Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue and the kayaker's companions, recovered the body early this afternoon. The casualty was loaded on our stretcher and transported safely back to Newbridge and to the care of Devon and Cornwall Police.

Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton working alongside Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Devon and Cornwall Polcie and South West Ambulance Service during callout to recover a kayaker on the River Dart.

Our Team Leader said: 'We have a very close bond with the kayakers that paddle this section of the River Dart, and we extend our sincere condolences to the family friends and his paddling companions with him today. We would also like to acknowledge the help of his companions in recovering their colleague. They were all very well equipped for the conditions and very experienced paddlers.'

Published in Callouts 2017
Sunday, 15 October 2017 21:27

Trio tackle River Dart in an inflatable

Trio tackle River Dart in an inflatable

CALLOUT 28 / 2017 - 16:30  15TH OCTOBER 2017

At 4:30 this evening (or just as I was about to carve the slow-cooked shoulder of lamb I'd been cooking since 1 o'clock to put it another way). We had a call from Devon and Cornwall Police in relation to an overdue trio of river users n the River Dart.  A lady had reported that her husband and 2 children were overdue after she had dropped them off at Dartmeet to paddle the river with limited safety equipment and an inflatable kayak, and she was waiting for them at Newbridge and they had failed to turn up.

The stretch of the River Dart from Dartmeet to Holne Bridge is arguably the most famous whitewater kayaking river in England.  The Upper Dart is harder, grade III, and on occasions, Grade IV, with the middle 'The Loop' section between Newbridge and Holne Bridge, mostly grade II with a few well-known grade III sections. Hence it should be respected and only attempted by those with the experience to match the conditions with tha appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE).

Our team of volunteers train frequently in the valley as it has various access and evacuation challenges due to its steep and wooded sides, and next to no mobile phone coverage meaning it can be difficult for walkers or kayakers in difficulty to raise the alarm if there is an incident.

Given the potential seriousness of the situation and the difficulties in access, the full team was called the team out immediately once called by the Police for assistance with the incidence.

A Police spokesperson said 'Numerous Police units from across the South Hams, Teignbridge and North Devon were dispatched to assist, along with a National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter, to work along side the volunteers from Dartmoor Serach and rescue Ashburton'

Fortunately, the family turned up safe and well at Newbridge after the kayak was punctured on rocks en route and they had to negotiate the remaining distance on foot. 

Our team duty search manager said. ' We are very pleased that this family has turned up safe and well. Hopefully they have learned a valuable lesson about learning more about the stretch of river they are planning to tackle and will be better prepared and more cautious in future.'

'When participating in any activity which could pose a risk, please ensure you are prepared properly by understanding the challenge you are undertaking and have the correct equipment, the recommended safety kit and an emergency backup plan just in case something goes wrong.'

'At this time of year the nights draw in quickly and having the means to signal rescuers in the dark along with spare warm clothing, 'just in case' can make a huge difference should you be delayed due to kit failure or injury.'

We were pleased to be notified by Police that the missing party had arrived safe but behind their schedule. Alls well that ends well.

As ever thanks to our families, and supporters who continue to support the team and the work we do.

And although the slow-cooked lamb shoulder was tepid, it was still absolutely delicious.




Published in Callouts 2017
Thursday, 22 February 2018 11:02

River Dart casualty recovery training

River Dart casualty recovery training

Every week, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton volunteers train to make sure they are fully prepared for any incident that they are called to by the full-time emergency services. The team doesn't just rescue walkers, climbers and the vulnerable on land, they also have a water rescue capability to respond to swift water incidents involving water sport enthusiasts, flooding events and searches for vulnerable missing persons that may involve watercourses.

Dartmoor Rescue Ashburton swift water rescue specialists preparing for a water rescue exercise

Of course, the team are on-call 24/7 so need to undertake training at night as well as during the day to reflect the incidents they are called to.  Hence last night's team training session focussed on communication and manoeuvring of a specialist rescue sled in the recovery of casualties stranded in the water in the dark.

Session organiser and team member Dave Underhill highlighted the need for water rescue training at night.  "Working in water at night has its challenges when trying to effect a water rescue. Apart from the obvious reduction in visibility, effective communication becomes harder with the background noise of the water and difficulty in visual signals being seen."

"We train frequently in the water during the day to make sure our volunteers have the confidence and skills necessary to not just search and rescue effectively, but also look after themselves and their teammates around water courses, and keep themselves safe. The evening water-based sessions put all that training into practice and get them used to working in a very challenging environment."

Apart from the assessed water 'Mod2' training which the majority of the team volunteers are qualified too, the team also has a specialist water team consisting of a group of Swiftwater Rescue Technicians (SRTs). The SRTs undertake additional assessed specialised training courses that enable them to undertake more advanced water rescues using equipment such as a 'rescue sled'.

Dartmoor Rescue Ashburton water rescue specialists training on the River Dart with their rescue sled

Dave continues "This training event on the River Dart was designed to get our Swift Water Technicians as well as Mod2 qualified members working together effectively in rigging and positioning our rescue sled and recovering casualties. Its teamwork such as this which is very important and could make the difference in being able to save a life of someone in need of our services. "


The charity is called out around 35 - 40 times a year by the Police, Ambulance and Fire Service not just on Dartmoor but across South and East Devon and further field on occasions. Its most recent callout at Longdown just outside Exeter did involve its water rescue specialists who found a body in the search for a missing University of Exeter student. Although the team were unable to save a life on that occasion, it's reassuring to know that a group of volunteers will respond any time of day or night to the aid of those in-need, and help bring closure for a family at such a difficult time.

You can donate to the team to help them with their specialist training and equipment costs via their website at


Published in News
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