Just got back from a long but unusually fruitful search – this is starting to become a habit. Significant for me because it was my first real honest-to-God casualty that I was the first aider for.

The pager went off at about 1830 and all credit to the police for calling us so quickly. A search for a missing lady in the Swansea valley. I got to base for the first response vehicle, quickly got changed in the garage, jumped in and off we go. When we arrived we got our search are and we looked through it as best as we could, given the fact that much of it was inaccessible – though if it’s in accessible to us, it’s likely to be inaccessible to someone else too. We entered the area via a small wooden bridge and spent some time there as Andrew had a feeling that this was a significant place. We did manage to find “drug paraphernalia” a bit further on – that is, a nicely constructed bong and small box of what looked like cannabis resin. We called it in to the Police and carried on.

We finished our area about 2300 and after having a break and waiting for another group to join in, we were retasked.

Suddenly, before we can leave, a priority radio call comes in. We have reports of the casualty being found by the bridge we crossed at the start of our search area. We rush back down and listen to the radio messages as the ambulance and police arrive. A message comes back – no casualty. Confusion somewhere. So we head down and flood the area with lights and noise to try and attract her attention, but no joy. At this point, we quietly decided to head back to control and grab some of the chips the police had laid on because at this point I (and pretty much everyone else) was starving. While us troops had some food, the search controllers and the police had a long discussion, and following some information that the husband had run off after apparently talking to the missing lady on the phone, we decided to search the area that he’d run into.

So I get allocated to be the navigator for Callum, one of the SARDA dog handlers and his dog Jenna. So we jump into a Landrover to be taken to our area and start getting our stuff sorted for the walk.

Priority call, over the radio. Make your way immediately to the bridge which we thought the casualty was at earlier. This bridge was becoming a common feature of this search – Andrew’s gut was right.

So off we shoot, and when we get there, I grab the Oxygen, the first aid kit comes out and we head in quickly. As it happens, I’m pretty much the only medic there, which puts me on lead. Callum is right behind me and when we arrive I ask him to be my record keeper. So I sit and chat to this lady, get her vitals and she’s cold and upset, so we wrap her up warm, carry her down the little embankment and are met by the county ambulance, where we hand over the casualty and assist in getting her back to the ambulance.

I stop for a second, take a few deep breaths and wait for the adrenaline to leave my system. It’s gone 0100, the casualty is safe and sound, stand down. So Andrew, Mal and I walk back to control, chatting about it on the way and critically analysing the incident looking at the lessons learned and improvements.

So now I’m home, and I’m shattered. I’m off to grab a shower before bed because I’m sweaty and smelly.

Job well done.

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