AN ORGANISATION that provides crucial support in search and rescue efforts across Dorset has been bolstered with two new vehicles to support its work.

Alongside replacing its ageing control vehicle with a newer alternative, charity Dorset Search and Rescue has added a new water response vehicle.

The charity's now retired control van had been the hub of many many missing person search operations over the past decease but it was due an upgrade.

A Dorset Search and Rescue spokesperson said: "Normally, such large projects would rely on winning grants but as the charity knew a replacement would be needed one day, funds were set aside using regular donations.

"This means that the control vehicle project has largely been funded by the generosity of the Dorset community via charity pots, collection buckets at events such as the Dorset County Show, direct donation, or other fundraising efforts."

The response vehicle will be dedicated to the water team, who specialise in searching for missing people that may be in or around inland water, such as rivers, lakes, and ponds.

"Until recently, lifesaving equipment was divided between vehicles or in storage which significantly hampered response times," the spokesperson added.

"With the introduction of a brand-new Ford Transit double crew-cab van, the team are able to securely transport their equipment and personnel quickly to a missing person incident involving water.

"In addition to this, the new vehicle means that the team have cleared a significant hurdle in becoming a DEFRA registered flood rescue asset that will allow them to respond to flooding incidents in Dorset and nationally if called upon."

Dorset Search and Rescue is a charity staffed 80 operational volunteers, three trainee search technicians and 18 support members who assist with non-operational tasks.

Teams assist in searches for high-risk missing vulnerable people in Dorset.

The charity is tasked and work closely with Dorset Police to provide specialist search resource including land search, water search, bike search, and search management.

Since its formation in 2004, Dorset Search and Rescue has responded to more than 400 callouts.