Haiti #2: We are back from Haiti

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Blog entry by cmckerliesr posted 01-28-2010 03:48 AM 1009 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Arrived Part 2 of Haiti series no next part

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 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

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

Bless you all for your warm messages.

-- The Man in the Can, Craig M. North Carolina

4 comments so far

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1896 posts in 3698 days

#1 posted 01-28-2010 05:24 AM

Welcome home, and thank you for your brave unselfish service!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3702 days

#2 posted 01-28-2010 06:53 AM

” Japanese rescue workers actually quit work at 5 pm everyday while the US teams worked in 24 hour shifts. reminds me of when I was a volunteer fireman. The paid firemen worked 24 hrs on then several days off. During he 24 on, they did normal 8 hrs if no calls, had evenings to themselves around the staton and slept all night. Any time there was a call they went during that period.

Most volunteers are available 16 hours a day on an average of 6 days a week. Most volunteers will go on as many calls in 5 or 6 years as a professional will in an entire career:-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4186 days

#3 posted 01-28-2010 03:01 PM

welcome back.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3739 days

#4 posted 01-28-2010 05:33 PM

Very glad that you and your wife made it home safely. If you need to talkprivatly to decompress just pm me a phone #. I’am a pretty good listener when I shut up.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

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