Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth

This unique fundraising event is being organised, and run by local volunteer search and rescue team Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team Plymouth (DSRTP). As a number of the team members are keen and very experienced ultra runners having competed locally, nationally, and internationally, it seemed a natural progression from the years of organising community fundraising walks on the moor. This event takes the planning process, as well as the participant experience to a different level which is a great progression!

50 Call-out volunteers

With almost 50 call-out volunteer team members, DSRTP stands by 24/7/365 to respond to emergency callout by the emergency services. With at least weekly training to a professional level, as well as having the latest equipment, they are skilled, trained and equipped to assist all of the emergency services. Primarily they are called upon by the police to assist with searching for missing and vulnerable individuals or groups, on moorland, rural and semi-rural areas throughout the Plymouth and Dartmoor areas. They can also be called upon by the Ambulance serve to help extract a casualty from a remote place away from a road. Finally, their joint training ensures they are also prepared to assist the Fire and Rescue Service in steep ground, or flood / white water rescue scenarios. These skills and assets can also be called upon to assist with regional or National Emergencies, with a swift water rescue team having been deployed to assist with the York flooding some time ago. These scenarios illustrate their main purpose it to assist the emergency services with considerable additional resource and equipment in extraordinary situations. 

From the local community

Team volunteers all live and work within the local community, with ages ranging from late teens through to, ahem, some resilient team members now in their 70s! Some of these senior members have remarkably been volunteering since the late 1960s, with an annual intake of fresh recruits helping ensure continuity. The team began in response to a keen core of local outdoor enthusiasts volunteering to help search for missing folk on Dartmoor nearly 50 years ago. This group became more organised, and was named the ‘Dartmoor Rescue Group’, which fulfilled this fantastic life-saving purpose for decades. Being called upon more by emergency services, and requiring a restructure, the team divided into 4 distinct teams matching the geographical areas from which members of the Dartmoor Rescue Group lived. This included teams in Okehampton, Ashburton, Tavistock and Plymouth. These 4 individual teams are all registered charities and still operate on the moor, often training and being called out together on prolonged searches. Dartmoor rescue Group still exists as a distinct charity helping route donated funds to all Dartmoor teams as well as being the military point of contact for the annual Ten Tors event which all teams support.  All Dartmoor teams are now associated with the wider regional Peninsular Mountain and Cave Rescue Association (PenMacra), as well as being associate members of Mountain Rescue England and Wales. Therefore, DSRTP gains from the close co-operation of not only all 3 other Dartmoor teams, but also search teams in Bodmin and Exmoor, Devon Cave rescue as well of course as the network of all other Mountain Rescue teams nationally. These associations and close collaborations ensure training, equipment and inter-agency co-operation is most fit for purpose.

Team capability

Some years ago DSRTP completed a fundraising programme that took several years, to purchase a new rescue Centre, located conveniently between Plymouth and Dartmoor at Roborough. This is now great space for storing the 3 team vehicles, all technical rescue and medical kits, as well as having a great training and community engagement area. All callouts start at this location with kit and team vehicles being deployed, with team members summoned to a rendezvous point by SMS included detailed co-ordinates. Callouts of any nature will generally include deployment of the large team control vehicle containing command and control seating area, computers for mapping and tracking, as well as being a communications platform for VHF and satellite communications. 2 team Land Rovers are usually deployed also, helping transport kit and personnel in less easy to reach places, with one specially kitted out to be able to transport a casualty flat on a stretcher while being supported by a team medic. Volunteer team members are trained in complex inter-agency command and control, as well of course as search techniques in all weathers, water rescue, navigation, communications and first aid. Training also includes how to deal positively with vulnerable and despondent people, with more than half of all call-outs including individuals in this category. DSRTP are fortunate to have several ambulance technicians and 2 Doctors volunteering to complement the certified medical training all team members undergo. Not only that, 2 feisty four legged team members are being trained up currently to fulfil the highly technical skill of being a certified search dog!


This extraordinary local, regional and indeed national resource depends upon the community which it selflessly serves for support in many ways, including of course financial. With no money coming from central government, all fundraising efforts help pay for equipment, training, ongoing rescue centre costs as well as technical and medical equipment replacement. Ongoing annual team costs are in the region of £40,000, a significant sum for a small community team to raise, but in reality a very small sum for the huge value we know we add to the wellbeing of the local community.

So, this is why we are putting on the Dartmoor Prison Break! As well as being a lot of fun for all involved, it is in the end a great additional way for the team to raise a fraction of their annual operating costs. Significant other sources of funds include support from the amazing Hope24 and Hope 12 charity ultra events operated by team supporter Danny Slay. Team member Ken Ringwood has written and published 2 very well received Dartmoor guidebooks and many one-off events raise great sums for the team. For example a 6th form team from Honiton High School recently undertook some adventure challenges raising more than £2k, this is phenomenal! Many community groups also club together and raise ad-hoc funds, with everything from cake sales, through to comedy nights or even a Police Choir Christmas concert! Other significant sources include grants and National Lottery.

How you can help!

So, if you can help support the team by taking part in this challenge, or helping support the team in any other way, this would be great! We know that understanding a little more about the team will help enthuse you to help in whatever way you can!