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Thread: Search and Rescue Basics

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panzer View Post
    I hope this helps some folks with questions. And I hope other SAR members chime in and add their own perspective.
    Nice post, that was a good intro to the basic skills needed for SAR.

    Quote Originally Posted by Panzer View Post
    K9
    Some folks go into SAR to become dog handlers. This is a very specialized training and takes years of development. There are great dog handlers and poor ones. But the dogs are usually awesome! ☺ enough said.
    It takes both a good handler and an awesome dog to make a SAR dog team. K9 units should weed out any poor handlers or dogs that would rather be doing something else.

    There are several different disciplines that SAR dog teams may be trained for:

    Trailing
    Trailing dogs are worked on-leash. Before starting, a scent article belonging to the subject is presented to the dog. The dog will then attempt to follow the residual scent trail left by that particular person as they walked from the place last seen. Note that the scent trail may not coincide exactly with the footsteps, so trailing is different than tracking that follows footstep to footstep.

    Airscent
    Airscent dogs are worked off-leash. Usually they do not require a scent article; they are trained to range away from their handler and search for human scent in the air and then home in on the person generating the scent. When a person is located, the dog will communicate the news to their handler in some way and will make sure the handler finds them too.

    Cadaver
    Cadaver dogs are trained to locate the scent of human remains. When remains are detected, they will indicate in some way where the source of the scent is strongest. Cadaver dog teams may further train to locate bodies underwater, usually from a boat. This can be difficult because the dog doesn't have the mobility to home in on the source of scent as it can on land. So the handler needs to read their dog's behavior and direct the boat driver accordingly.

    Avalanche
    Avalanche dogs are trained to locate people that have been buried in snow, and will help dig them out.

    Disaster
    Disaster dogs are trained to work on rubble piles such as from building collapses. The handler may not be able to go where their dog does, so there is a lot of emphasis placed on training agility and directional signals. FEMA task forces train these dogs teams to be deployed on disaster missions.

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    Thank you, Sir! Very informative!

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    I spent several years in SAR myself and loved it. I was a rescue repeller and served as the first president in our organization as well as training officer for several years. I surely enjoyed SAR.

    There are a lot of positions in SAR other than being on the field teams. A lot of logistics and support goes into a search. My point is this, even if you are not able to serve on a field team actually doing the search or rescue, there are a lot of things that need doing. Assisting teams on R&R, driving, radio operations, or maybe just being a gopher. We had people who were handicapped helping with support activities. We had a man who could not walk a city block, but he could sit and opperate a radio for hours. Just one example.
    So if you want to be part of SAR, you can be. Just contact your local SAR and volunteer. They would love to have you.

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    I received my SARTechIII certification about a year ago. I have taken the SARTechII course but I need to take the field trial for the Tech II. My team is actually a CERT crew but is trying to get more SAR trained resources.

    One cool thing is most of you on here have a great start on the minimum gear requirement. If you are a member of a disaster response team of some sort your equipment purchases and other expenses getting to a response might be tax deductible because it can be considered a volunteer or charitable expense.

    A couple of quick benefits to being SAR qualified:

    1. You have the opportunity to help someone in dire need.
    2. Occasionally you may be called out to assist LEO and aid in brining a fugitive to justice.
    3. You can get some more woods time and might be able to write off the cost.

    One other piece of training you might consider aside from NASAR and FEMA is getting your ham radio license. Having an understanding of how radio communications work can be a key element in the field.

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    These are skills anyone can benefit from. Used to work with group in Los Angeles as the mountain areas around there can actually be more rugged then here in Portland. Used to train LAPD Explorer Scouts in grid search and rescue. Worked with the PD in outer areas when missing children were in need of help. Knowing how to extract an injured person "the right way" can be a life saver and during an actual bug out is priceless.

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    In addition to the crews in the field most SAR operations have a headquarters with a guy who keeps track of the people involved, another controlling maps and information, another planning the search strategy and mechanics, another handling logistics (transportation, supplies, equipment) and finally someone who handles public information and contact. If this sounds like a military staff (S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4, and S-5 respectively) it is. The army found by long experience that this type of staff operation works and works well. Service veterans with staff experience fit right in, no matter age or physical condition, and retired folks usually have the time available to respond immediately.

    In addition to SAR many areas rely on volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. There are also the National Guards, the military reserves and, in those states that have them, state defense forces. Many employers are highly supportive of these activities, contributing money and encouraging employees to participate. Some will even continue to pay employees when they are away. The flip side are employers who either fire or won't hire those who volunteer. (Of course, when THEIR business or home is afire, or THEIR family has the emergency they expect the volunteers to show up.) It's a good idea to check with your employer before volunteering.

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    In addition to the crews in the field most SAR operations have a headquarters with a guy who keeps track of the people involved, another controlling maps and information, another planning the search strategy and mechanics, another handling logistics (transportation, supplies, equipment) and finally someone who handles public information and contact. If this sounds like a military staff (S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4, and S-5 respectively) it is. The army found by long experience that this type of staff operation works and works well. Service veterans with staff experience fit right in, no matter age or physical condition, and retired folks usually have the time available to respond immediately.
    This process is called the Incident Command system. It will work from a small incident with two people on staff to a huge disaster like a hurricane with 100's of people on staff. FEMA offers free online Incident Command courses. Our teams requires a bunch of them as a starting point to understand how an incident is ran. It's like a well oiled machine.
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    Yeah, well the army calls it command and control and it works for a company up to million-man armies. Over the years I've served as a battery commander, an S-1, S-2, S-3 and helped out the S-4 from time to time. I'll look up the FEMA courses. I'm curious whether FEMA and the army agree on how things should be run.

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    IC was developed by the California Fire Marshall (not sure which agency for sure) in response to wild fires. It has bee refined and applied to disaster management and SAR specifically. I imagine that it's very similar to military command structures.
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    Thanks again for the great post Panzer (& others). The timing of this is great. I actually have my first SAR training this Saturday for MA-based CMSART. Hopefully I can hang enough to not be a nuisance.
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