New Zealand experts to be consulted by East Lancs search teams

Teams are being taught to check changes in vegetation

Teams are being taught to check changes in vegetation

First published in News Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

TRACKING methods used by experts in New Zealand are set to be employed across East Lancashire by mountain rescue teams.

Members of the Bowland Pennine and Rossendale and Pendle teams are being trained in the ancient techniques to ‘improve efficiency’ and compliment their existing search skills.

The techniques involve looking for ‘clues’ of human activity in an area and working out how long it has been since a person passed through a disturbed area.

These clues can include flattening of the vegetation or ground, colour changes where someone has moved through, patterns of soles, vegetation changes and disturbance to the natural environment.

The initiative has been championed by Bowland Pennine team member Simon Harris after two specialists from The Search and Rescue Institute of New Zealand came over to conduct a pilot training course.

The specialists are set to come over again in September to run another course and train up team members to become instructors as well.

Ross Gordon, of The Search and Rescue Institute of New Zealand, said: “This tracking training programme comes from 20 years of development and operation use in New Zealand.

“If a person went missing from a parked car the trackers would try to get details of the missing person’s prints from around the car and circulate this information to the other searchers.

“They in turn check gateways, forested areas, stream crossings and pathways to try and locate matching signs and thereby narrow down the search area.

“The trackers would also try and establish the direction of travel from the car which helps to reduce the potential search area.

“There are other more advanced tracking skills which involve interpreting the sign on the ground and from that drawing up a physical and mental picture of the missing person.”

The rescue team is hoping to raise £20,000 for the training, which will be held at Bowland Pennine’s Dunsop Bridge head quarters in September.

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