West Mercia Search & Rescue team opens new base in Bridgnorth
It's made up of some of the most fearless volunteers who support our emergency services in helping people in perilous situations.
Now West Mercia Search and Rescue has expanded, moving into a new base in Bridgnorth where equipment, boats and more will be kept.
And with the River Severn flowing through the town, it is an ideal location and central to saving lives in Shropshire and the surrounding areas.
The group which searches for missing adults and children and performs rescues from rivers will be based in Stanmore Industrial Estate.
The unit, which has been hired off the Classic Motor Company, will be used as a main command unit for the organisation.
Steve Brown, of Muxton, in Telford, is the medical governance officer for West Mercia SAR – a role he fits in with his day IT consultant day job.
The 38-year-old says the group always have someone on-call and will drop anything to respond to an incident.
"We've been looking for a little while – the way our region is set up we cover all over Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and Bridgnorth is relatively central to all of those.
"The decision to move there was made several months ago for those reasons. It's going to be our equipment hub and main command unit and our boats will be there as well.
"We've got a really good relationship with the Classic Motor Company, who have offered us some space which we're renting out.
"You've got the River Severn flowing through Bridgnorth which is obviously handy – we've had a few jobs in there in the past and get a lot of jobs around Shrewsbury. We can respond to a job anywhere in the UK if needed."
The organisation is called out by the police and fire services when help is needed in finding and saving people in the region.
Highly-trained and well-equipped specialist volunteers help with a number of incidents including searching for missing vulnerable adults and children, rescuing from floods, rivers and other waterways and provision of care to anyone whose life is in danger.
All 60 members are unpaid and are audited by multiple agencies to ensure that their training, equipment and response is as reliable as the emergency services themselves.
Mr Brown added: "We don't get any Government funding but do a lot of fundraising, which is the key thing for us.
"We also apply for grants. In essence we're in the same boat as the Midlands Air Ambulance – it can very challenging raising money.
"We want to keep building on what we've got to make what we offer more proactive. The SAR team are always on call 24/7.
"If something comes in then there will be members of the team that can respond – not everyone is available at every single time but we always have a good percentage of the team around."
It comes after it was revealed that twelve high risk people were steered away from the River Severn during a Christmas safety crackdown.
The new campaign to battle river fatalities was launched after a number of deaths in the county over the Christmas period.
The voluntary organisation recently ran a temporary campaign, where hundreds of people were spoken to over Christmas and about a dozen "high risk" people near the water were steered away.
The festive operation was launched in Shrewsbury after a number of deaths in the town in recent years.