Well, my wife and I have made it back. Actually we returned yesterday. Now is decompression time. I just thought I should let you all know that we made it back safe and sound, especially after all the great messages.
Plus I will take a moment to answer a question that was posted about how to get involved in Search and Rescue. Before I go into that part, though I must tell you the what one of the truly difficult parts of search and rescue are. I will never forget my first search, which was in Dinwhitty (not sure of the spelling) Va. It was a for a woman who had been missing for a year and all the evidence pointed to foul play. We arrived the night before the search and met the victims family members for dinner. That was the hardest dinner I was ever at. The look of pleading in the victims mothers eyes was just almost too much to take. After ward, I had commented to the others on team just how hard it was and that I wished someone had warned me about what that was going to be like. No one really said much other then acknowledging just how difficult it is at times.
Now on to what to do if you want to join the world of search and rescue. First go to http://www.nasar.org/nasar/ and read every thing. Then when you are familiar with the information, find a team. Google “Search and Rescue in yourstate”, and contact a team near you. They may offer local classes for getting your SARTECH certifications. Also depending on the team you may need to also have to take EMS training too. Keep in mind though, that you do not have to have a search dog or even train one, pretty much all teams need members who are not handlers or part of K-9 team.
OK, with all that. Here is a little of what you can expect for training. The classes generally take two weekends, from Friday till Sunday afternoon. The first weekend is usually class time, learning things like map reading, forms, tie knots, and a lot of other basic information. The second weekend is spent in the woods. You have to demonstrate that you can build a shelter and have the capabilities of keeping yourself and one other person alive for 24 hours. You will also participate in a mock search.
There is a lot of gear too. This is a volunteer thing, so you will have to buy all your equipment and in some cases depending on the team you may need to buy a uniform too. If you want to train a dog, there are lots of expenses there too. OH. You will also need to get an amateur radio license. Nearly every search team requires this. Why? Because, ham or amateur radio provides the best in communications for the team and the use of APRS (a kind of GPS using a ham radio and a laptop). Do not let this deter you. The test is multiple choice, and if you buy a study guide from the Gordon West Radio School you will be set. The questions and answers in the guide are exactly the same word for word in the exam. The only thing that can change, is the order of the answer but nothing else.
One of the most important things you will need is a utility vest like the Blackhawk Omega Elite Vest Medic/Utility, found at www.opticsplanet.com.
Then there is the tracking stick. This you will have to make. I will not go into details about this stick. But soon I will be posting one I have built as a project.
I am not going to lie, parts of this can be expensive, but you do not always have to do or buy everything at once.
Hopefully I have not deterred anyone from pursuing this. Some teams, will allow you to join and help you with the education expenses.
The bottom line, is that you have to be ready and committed for everything search and rescue entails. The ups, the downs, the frustrations, the expenses (most can be written of on your taxes), and have the flexibility to deploy when called. You do not have to make every search, but your team will tell you what they require for a commitment. You do not have to join a team, but trust me, a team is the way to go.
I almost forgot, if you team says they will travel internationally like mine does. You will also need to get a passport. I have been to Kobe, Japan and now Haiti after earthquakes. And if you do go through all this and heaven forbid go to another country to aid in a search and rescue operation. Do not be surprised by what you see, hear, and experience. For instance no one ever heard, that during the Kobe operation. The Japanese rescue workers actually quit work at 5 pm everyday while the US teams worked in 24 hour shifts.
I could go on and on, but all that would do is bore you or it may discourage you and I do not want to do that.
So, I will go out on a limb here. If you want to know more then, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bless you all for your warm messages.
-- The Man in the Can, Craig M. North Carolina