Businesses Charity & Community

Insights from a Search and Rescue Volunteer

When I tell people I volunteer for a charity called BSAR, the response is normally ‘who?’

This gets more confusing when I say that we are the Buckinghamshire Search and Rescue. People then have a wry smile or laugh. Who gets lost in Bucks?

Did you know that Bucks is 723 square miles of varied terrain, dense woodland, lots of hills, and significant waterways, including the Thames River? And with a population of over 540,000 people, unfortunately some go missing.

We are called out by Thames Valley Police who we work closely with to provide a specialised land and waterway search capability. Our volunteers are highly trained and have skills ranging from searching theory, advanced navigation, waterway and bank searching, use of drones and advanced first aid. Minimum training is 3 months with regular weekly cadence and several accreditations that can be achieved.

So, who do we search for? We are primarily called out to find high risk, vulnerable missing children and adults. We also provide resiliency services in the event of extreme weather, flood response, including residential evacuation assistance.

We are normal people, with family commitments and most of us with full-time jobs. We are on call 24-7 every day of the year, and when on call we can be searching for up to eight hours at a time in small teams, until we complete our task.

Searching can be intense, hot, cold, wet, muddy, and of course can be in pitch darkness, so good equipment is paramount. We must be self-sustainable for up to eight hours and be prepared for any situation. It doesn’t take long to find out how waterproof your footwear is, or if your torch batteries will last. We all rely on each other and work as a team to search quickly and effectively.

Bucks Search and Rescue are a recipient of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service – the MBE for Volunteer Groups – for the services we provide to the Police, the Council and the local community.

Our charity is a member unit of Lowland Rescue, which sets governing standards for its 36 teams, and is a member of the UK Government’s UKSAR Operator’s Group – the official group which governs all of the UK’s onshore and offshore search and rescue operations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we are still on call, however our training has moved to virtual sessions. We do not receive Government funds and rely on the kind donations we receive.

If you want to donate to our charity please visit our website:

If you are interested in joining please e-mail:

“Being a member of BSAR has built up my confidence, taught me new transferable skills and given me a group of friends that I trust and rely on.”

Written by Andy Bant and Sophie Wright from the PR team

Saving Lives in Buckinghamshire since 1987

About the author

hiya bucks

Here at hiya bucks we go on regular walks exploring the local towns, villages, public footpaths, gardens, rivers, lakes and more! We love getting out and about discovering new places to visit and we thoroughly enjoy going to local events and getting involved with the community. We hope to inspire others to step out of their daily routines and see more of our Beautiful Buckinghamshire.