05 Dec 2018
POLICE sergeant by day, mountain rescue volunteer by night.
Dyfed-Powys Police roads policing sergeant Owen Dillon has spoken about how he finds the time to volunteer for the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team around a high pressured job.
The force is celebrating its officers and staff who give up their time for other agencies as part of the UN’s International Volunteer Day.
Sergeant Dillon, who is based in Brecon, has been a part of the MRT for four years and spends his free time responding to calls, fundraising and training.
He said he has always been active and taken part in outdoor sports including walking, climbing, mountaineering, kayaking and canoeing – pursuits which lend themselves well to mountain rescue.
Within the team, he is a Hill Member, a blue light driver, TRIM (trauma risk management) assessor, and is on the kayak search team. To pass the selection process he was required to complete an application form, interview and mountain assessment, before starting training with a group of five others.
Since passing his probation, Sergeant Dillon has responded to more than 30 calls, ranging from missing people to lost and injured hikers.
Looking back at some memorable calls, he said: “I remember a call to a male lost around Pen y Fan, when we had teams looking all over the mountains in the dark and fog.
“I was with a team checking the peak, when I saw a little light on the cairn and found that the missing man had found his way back, and was sat there desperate and cold waiting to be rescued. He had limited kit and had no idea how to get back to his car, so was too scared to leave the cairn.
“Earlier this year, we had a call to a fallen ice climber. A number of the vehicles were stuck in deep snow, but I had got close with my truck and joined the initial four-person team, which included the team doctor, to head out in the very cold conditions. We found the injured climber and his friend and gave first aid while waiting for back-up, trying to keep him warm and relieving his pain.
“Sometime later a tractor arrived after clearing snow to get the team Land Rover through so we could load the injured climber in on a stretcher. I saw three of my colleagues sat in the bucket of the tractor having a lift, then dug my truck out. That was a long, but rewarding rescue.”
Sgt Dillon fits the calls in around his full-time job on the Brecon Roads Policing Unit, volunteering during rest days and even rearranging shifts to see incidents through.
“I have to look at my rota so I am fit for work,” he said. “If it is a long-running job, I have taken rest days or moved shifts to be available for deployment. My shift pattern allows me to make the training on every Wednesday, unless I am working evenings.
“I am keen to find the time to attend in order to keep qualified and also as I have become good friends with many in the team.
“In joining the team I have developed many new friendships. The relationships have also often overlapped with my role as a police officer with positive results. Within the area I work I am known now within the community not just as a police officer but also a member of the team often generating conversations and breaking the ice in many situations.
“For me, the being in the team is another way of serving my community and keeps me true the values that made me want to become a police officer. My membership of the team will continue long after I leave the police service.”