Trossachs Search and Rescue update 25 March

Latest Update from Stuart Bannatyne, TS&R, continuing superb service and dedication in support of our Rural Communities at this difficult time.

Hello folks,

We'd like to reassure you that our team, all volunteers, are still providing a range of operational services across the area.

Public access defibrillators - Our monthly checks and change over of pads and batteries of local public access defibrillators continue and these are mapped on our defib locator app...address at the very bottom of this email. 

First Responders - We deliver this service every night from 5pm to 8am and during the day as our members can commit. This bolsters the Scottish Ambulance Service crews.

TECS Responders - We have been supporting Stirling Council's TEC Responders since 9th September every single night from 5pm - 8am and this continues to be the case.

Urban SAR Dogs - Our Urban SAR dogs who provide support to the Scottish Fire + Rescue Service, HM Coastguard and Police Scotland are still operational and will continue to train.

Heartstart classes - We have suspended these classes until further notice owing to changes in guidance about working in close proximity etc.. We're available for phone guidance etc and the local defibs themselves talk you through the process once switched on.

Community sessions - We love to visit schools, nurseries, youth organisations and other community groups, especially with our search dogs or to deliver Heartstart classes. Sadly, we have had to stop these until further notice.

COVID-19 Outbreak - How will this affect us?

In 2019 our team responded to 206 callouts, so far in 2020 we have responded to 97 callouts!

Stirling Council - We enjoy an excellent relationship with staff across several departments of the council. We receive enormous support from the risk and resilience manager - Alanna and her staff of John and Jamie. The council has been very supportive in terms of grant funding, which we plough straight back into local communities.

Bases - At the end of November 2019 we obtained the lease of an industrial unit at Geisher Road, Callander from Stirling Council. That is now our HQ. We STILL have use of and operate from a room in the ambulance station at Balfron and have use of facilities at the fire stations at Aberfoyle and Dunblane for training, meeting and storage of some equipment.

Public Access Defibrillators - We will continue, where possible to check local public access defibs. Over the past 3 months we have spent over £3,000 replacing pads and batteries. Sadly, we have no funding to continue to support communities by doing so. We have been reimbursed by a couple of community councils and community groups and a couple of local businesses on behalf of their communities. We have tried to recover costs from others who just ignore our letters. We have replaced all pads and some batteries in the past 3 or so months across Doune, Callander, Deanston, Balfron, Balquhidder, Strathyre, Lochearnhead. Some of these pads have now been used in the meantime and spares fitted. Once these remaining pads have been used there is no money to replace them so communities will be devoid of their defibrillator. The opportunity for us to cover first aid at events and put this straight back into local defibs will be non existent for several months, sadly.

In 2018/19, Stirling Council awarded us an amazing £15,000 grant which was used to support communities by replacing pads, batteries and some older cabinets. The Co-op at Balfron has also been very supportive and we hope to get £300 from them in April which will be used locally. Fintry and Thornhill/ Blairdrummond CCs have also been very supportive in terms of reimbursing us.

So, please, this is something community councils need to consider. Many of these defibrillators actually belong to you in any case.

First Responders - In 2019 we were dispatched to 50 life-threatening medical emergencies by the Scottish Ambulance Service. So far in 2020 we have been dispatched to 15 such incidents.

The Scottish Ambulance Service is being very vague as to what impact this will have on us continuing to deliver VITAL LOCAL responders to attend life-threatening incidents such as cardiac arrests, strokes, heart attacks etc.. They have already told us we are no longer being sent to patients with breathing difficulties.

Thankfully, being a responsible organisation we have a stock of basic personal protective equipment inc gloves, masks and hand gel. We have been unable to obtain any supplies of additional stock from the Scottish Ambulance Service, despite public assurances they've done so. Thankfully, being a responsible organisation we also have a stock of spare oxygen, oxygen therapy equipment, defib pads etc..

TECS Responders - On 9th September 2019 we started supporting the TECS (MECS) service and between then and 31st December responded to 115 incidents supporting persons in need from Strathblane to Tyndrum and into Dunblane. 

So far in 2020, we have responded to 63 incidents to support persons in need.

We enjoy an excellent relationship with Stirling Council staff managing and delivering this service. We have offered to bolster them, should the need arise in coming days or weeks during the day also, but only in the rural area that we currently cover. 

Urban SAR Dogs - There is no reason to stop training or deploying our search dogs and personnel to incidents.

Community Support - Several community groups and community councils have approached us with offers of help. THANK YOU.

Thoughts included delivering food supplies to those staying at home however there are many communities now organising their own services - well done.

So, our members, who show no desire or need at present to withdraw community support have:

Offered the use of our HQ in Callander to CCDT who may shortly commence a community service to distribute food and prescriptions ton those in need. Unfortunately, it still has no phone line. It does have heating, lighting a toilet and toilet paper...

We have been offered use of the Strathard Business Hub at Aberfoyle and its comms facilities to co-ordinate our activities if required - thanks Trevor.

We will operate the first responder service in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service if allowed to continue to do so and for as long as we can.

We will continue to operate the TECS service in partnership with Stirling Council as long as we can and will bolster them daytime if necessary.

I will be participating in a conference call with Scottish Government tomorrow, in my capacity as Chairman of the West of Scotland Voluntary Sector Group with approx 30 voluntary organisations as member. Our main concern is complete lack of dialogue with the emergency services, who seem to have gone into lock down and the lack on monetary support and insurance cover to enable us to do what emergency plans of the emergency councils, NHS, local authorities may ask us to do. For example, as a group we have put in place a comms network to enable us to communicate by radio across the 30 groups but utilising android phones... and making plans to support each other when required. This work MUST be supported by the Scottish Government as it already supports other voluntary organisations.

If it does not, then the potential support from the voluntary sector will be minimal.

Thanks for your support locally.


Stuart Ballantyne

Secretary + Call-Out Organiser Trossachs Search + Rescue Team Unit 5, Geisher Road Callander FK17 8LX Scottish Charity No SC028266 www.trossachs-sar,com Twitter @TrossachsSAR Tel 07796 240 023 (Team 24/7 callout) Tel 07525 357 947 (Direct) Defib Locator App:

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