What do I have to do to join?
We prefer for anyone interested in joining to start coming to our Saturday training events, before making the decision to join. This will give us a chance to get to know you and give you a chance to get to see how we work and train. If after the first few times you don’t feel that joining our team is the best option for you, we understand. It can be a major undertaking to add volunteer search and rescue to an already busy lifestyle. We harbor no ill will toward anyone who decides not to join. However, if you’d like to join after your first few visits, we’d love to have you.
What are the requirements for membership?
We have some fairly basic requirements for becoming an active part of our team. A clean background check and compliance with our Code of Conduct and our Policies are the most important. However, we want our members to work like a team. So, we also require a minimum of 20 hours participation in our “Unified Team Training” events per quarter. These training events are typically conducted on the weekend, usually on Saturday mornings. We also require participation in two Exercises per quarter. While these exercises are usually conducted on Saturday as well, the time spent at an exercise does not count toward the 20 hours of unified team training. To meet the minimum requirements you can expect to give up at least 3 Saturdays a month. We realize this can be difficult for some, but it’s this training that makes us the professionals that we present ourselves to be. SAR is a way of life, not just a hobby.
Do I need a canine to be a part of your team?
Absolutely not. While being a canine handler is very rewarding, it is certainly not the only duty in SAR. We have folks that work at base handling coordination of resources, search planning, and working communications. We also have resources dedicated to flanking for canine handlers, ground searching, crew leading, and many other field positions. There are many roles that need filled on on a typical search, and many of them don’t involve canines.
Can I bring my canine?
Not at first. We understand that your canine may be considered a part of you, and they are very important to you. We’ve all been there. However, for your first steps in SAR, you’ll have to make it without your canine. It is very important to understand that SAR is not about the canine. It’s about the person. We require that new folks attend a few training sessions with out your canine, before we consider a canine you may already have. This is simply because of the commitment in training a canine. We don’t like to ask our current members to give up valuable training time helping you with your canine until we’re sure and you’re sure that SAR is going to be something you really want to commit to. Once you make that decision, we will help you assess your canine or help you find one. Overall it is important to understand that SAR training is more about training YOU. In the grand scheme of things, canines are just another tool in a well equipped SAR toolbox.
Do I need any special equipment?
At first you won’t. Just comfortable clothing and decent shoes with good ankle support. Eventually, when you start building out your 24-hour pack, you will start collecting gear to make your job easier. However, that will come later.
Is it expensive?
YES! It’s a simple answer, but it’s true. Once SAR becomes a way of life, you will being traveling a lot. There are no reimbursements for fuel, food, or tolls. You will also begin collecting quite a bit of gear. While this can be spread out, it does add up. Once you get more involved in SAR, you will probably start traveling out state to seminars, conferences, and weekend workshops. Again, all of this comes out of your own pocket. While there are certainly ways to help reduce the cost, it’s important to understand that volunteer SAR is one of the more expensive activities a person can be involved in. We do it because we love it. Not because we get paid.
What certifications do you require?
For someone to be “field ready”, they are required to have a SAR TECH III certification, four basic certifications from FEMA, CPR and First Aid, Youth Protection, HazMat Awareness, Crime Scene Preservation, and Bloodbourne Pathogens. While that may sound like a long list, we will be there to help you along the way. If you commit to this SAR way of life, we’ll commit to making sure you have the training you need. The training never stops.
Okay. I’ve read it all, and I’m still interested in joining. What’s next?
Please fill out the form below, and someone from our membership committee will be in touch with you. We will let you know where we are training and we’ll expect to see you there. At your first training session, we will give you the run down of what will need to happen and get you started on the path to becoming a SAR volunteer.