Do you have an interest in search and rescue but you aren’t interested in being a K9 handler? Or maybe you’d like to be a K9 handler some day but for right now, a dog, or a new dog, is just not in the cards yet? Well, you can still be involved in SAR and boy do we need you!!!
There are many ways you can be involved with our SAR team. We always need trained ground searchers. We can also use support personnel that help the team deploy. From drivers, to radio operators, to first aid personnel, command staffing and logistics, there is a place for you. What do we require? Your interest first and foremost. We’ll find a way for you to be involved that allows you to be part of the team.
First off, just like all K9 handlers, a background check is required. You will need to take and pass the online NASAR technician III test. We also expect all team members to have CPR and AED training unless you have a physical disability that precludes CPR certification. We also require some Incident Command and NIMS courses. After that, it depends on exactly what you want to do and the specific requirements needed for that task.
One specific area we have a need for is for trained ground searchers, (GS’s). Ground searchers are personnel that have certified to the NASAR technician II level. You are physically fit, ready to respond to searches with the same urgency as the K9 handlers, you maintain a field pack for the current season and you maintain your certifications. To become GS qualified, we would expect a new member to attend most of the scheduled team trainings during their first year with the team. The new GS will be required to obtain their NASAR Technician II certification within 24 months of joining the team. Until the certification is completed, your ability to deploy with the team will be greatly limited.
Once certified, and any other team membership requirements have been completed, you will deploy with the K9 teams to any searches. Most K9 teams do not work on their own. They are usually deployed with one or more ground searchers on each task assigned. The assigned GS’s will serve several roles. First and foremost, they serve as additional eyes and ears in the field. The K9 handler should be focused on their K9 partner and can easily miss physical clues left by missing subjects such as footprints, candy and food wrappers, water bottles, etc… The ground searchers also assist with navigation, radio operation and possibly first aid, rescue and recovery.
In many searches, there are areas that cannot be fully accessed by the K9 teams, or areas that are best searched by people. Some areas are often searched again by GS’s after a K9 team has been through to provide a higher level of probability that a missing subject has not be missed by the K9 team. In very large searches when hundreds of volunteer searchers show up due to media involvement, the trained GS’s may be asked to manage and lead a task made up of volunteer civilian searchers.
Once fully trained, we expect ground searchers to maintain their certifications and skill levels. Participation, every week, while encouraged, is not required for GS’s. But we require GS’s to attend at least one field readiness and pack check each quarter. In addition, GS’s must participate in at least two mock drills every year and participate in at least one physical competency training each year.