Staffordshire's police and crime commissioner has hailed the county's Search and Rescue team as a "crucial hub" for the region's emergency service network.
Matthew Ellis paid a glowing tribute to the rescue service and its work helping to keep Burton and Uttoxeter residents safe and sound.
Mr Ellis said he had been "incredibly impressed" by the team's work during his visit to the group's headquarters, after handing over £3,000 towards its up-keep last year.
The team is situated just a couple of miles from Stafford town centre, although many people are thought to be unaware of its existence or the crucial role it plays in the county.
Made up of 72 volunteers – aged between 18 and post-retirement age – the Staffordshire Search and Rescue team works in partnership with police helping to find missing people, mainly those who are vulnerable and high risk.
There were 3,000 'missing person' calls to Staffordshire Police last year. Most were dealt with by the police and ended well but in some cases, often across more hazardous terrains, the Staffordshire Search and Rescue team was called out.
This year alone, the rescue team has assisted 30 times. It is frequently required to tackle rough terrain, including water-bank searches.
Its equipment includes kayaks, canoes, a power boat, a 4x4 response vehicle, an ambulance, a control vehicle – to help co-ordinate searches with police – mountain bikes, medical provisions and other first aid equipment.
The volunteer 'family' also includes three dogs, specially-trained to detect missing individuals using airborne scent.
Mr Ellis said he was moved by the group's dedication and diligence to what can often be traumatic work.
He said: "These search and rescue volunteers are the little-known heroes of Staffordshire –the emergency service you might have never heard of – and more people need to know about its work.
"These are unpaid volunteers who give up their spare time and pass up the comfort of their own homes to help those caught up in life-threatening situations across our region.
"We forget that Staffordshire has vast areas of open space, moorlands and rivers – all are potentially hazardous areas.
"Staffordshire Search and Rescue saves lives, helps others and its personnel are ready to drop everything to tackle, quite often, the most unforgiving and treacherous places. I am delighted to support this cause."
Staffordshire Search and Rescue estimates it costs in the region of £25,000 to support its service – mainly for the maintenance of equipment, insurance, fuel for vehicles and general costs.
Apart from the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner assistance, its upkeep is reliant on fund-raising and public goodwill.
Staffordshire Search and Rescue PR officer Rachel Good said: "We are extremely grateful to the OPCC for its financial commitment to Staffordshire Search and Rescue.
"We are often called out to the most vulnerable people or those who are in the grips of the most distressing period of their lives.
"Every penny we receive is crucial to our existence – it really is the lifeblood of our service. Without it we wouldn't exist."
You can donate to the Staffordshire Search and Rescue here