Organisers have appealed for members of the public to sign up for Northamptonshire’s first voluntary lowland search and rescue team.
The county is one of a handful of lowland areas in the UK without an unpaid service, which would help police search for high-risk missing people as well as giving assistance to councils during other local emergencies such as flooding.
The first open evening for volunteers was held at Kettering Police Station on Tuesday, October 23.
Rob Moore, operations and media support manager for the new team, said there was no reason a voluntary group in the county could not perform as valuable a role as similar groups do elsewhere in Britain.
Voluntary search teams were used prominently alongside the police during the search for five-year-old April Jones, who went missing in mid-Wales at the beginning of this month.
Mr Moore said: “There has always been the demand for a voluntary team in Northamptonshire, but no-one has ever taken the initiative to create one before.
“We are looking for about 30 or 40 members. The more we have got, the more you can put out when others are working.”
The Northamptonshire group will be mentored by the Midshires Search and Rescue team — which covers Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and has been in existence since 1999 — until it is ready to carry out searches on its own.
Jon Mayes, Midshires’ membership secretary, told would-be recruits in Kettering that volunteering was all about community spirit.
He said: “It does get busy at times. The wind might be howling, you might be up to your knees in snow, but there’s great camaraderie in the team.
“You do miss the odd dinner or social event, but there is a lot of satisfaction in getting involved, especially when you get a positive result.”
He added: “It’s not a case of Northamptonshire being behind other places, but the need for a team has been brought about because the police can’t search some of these areas efficiently.
“They just don’t have the manpower.”
Anyone who is interested in getting involved in the team is asked to contact Mr Moore on 07940 739624.