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Home > Documents > Constitution

Constitution -- Revised December 2011

Click here for a pdf copy of the Constitution.

ARTICLE I - Organization Name and Purpose

The organization shall be named Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team (UVWRT). UVWRT is volunteer search and rescue (SAR) organization based in Hanover, New Hampshire. UVWRT's purpose is twofold:

  1. The primary purpose of this organization is to provide the surrounding areas with a source of organized emergency manpower which is prepared for search and rescue operations.
  2. The secondary purpose of UVWRT is to provide the community with a source of education and outreach for information and instruction in areas related to search and rescue.

ARTICLE II - Requests to Respond

Section 1

UVWRT will only respond to an incident when requested to do so by an officially recognized authority involved in disaster and/or emergency management. Such recognized authorities include the New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game, the Vermont State Police, and Emergency Fire, Medical, or Law Enforcement agencies. UVWRT recognizes the authority of the requesting agency in the determination of incident function for the team; and UVWRT recognizes and conforms to the Incident Command System (ICS) as the general system for scene management.

ARTICLE III - Membership

Section 1 - Equal Opportunity Statement

  1. UVWRT membership is open to all area residents and students. UVWRT membership is open to all area residents and students.
  2. Membership is obtained without regard to race, gender, color, creed, religious or sexual orientation

Section 2 - Requirements for Obtaining Membership

  1. Completion of a UVWRT Application Form including a Liability Waiver Form .
  2. Acquisition of a suitable 24 hour pack as described in the UVWRT Equipment List
  3. A minimum age of 18
  4. Payment of annual dues (refunded if the application is denied)
  5. Application Approval by UVWRT Officers

    (Final membership approval is at the discretion of the UVWRT officers.)

Section 3 - Factors Encouraged and Highly Desired in Applicants

  1. A basic competency in outdoor living and survival skills
  2. First Aid Training to at least the level of community CPR and First Aid.
  3. A high level of physical fitness
  4. d. A willingness and ability to participate in training activities and respond to callouts

Section 4 - Categories of Membership

  1. Probationary Member.

    Upon completion of the requirements described in SECTION 2, probationary status is awarded to the individual. Probationary status expires after one year from the date of initial acceptance. If active status (See SECTION 4b below) is not obtained prior to the aforementioned expiration the membership is automatically terminated

    Extensions of probationary status require a written request directed to and approved by the Team Leader. Upon expiration of probationary status, a new application to the team must be submitted and approved (including a new dues payment) in order for the individual to participate further with the tea

    Probationary members cannot vote but can be called upon to participate in SAR calls at the discretion of the Team Leader.
  2. Active Member

    Active members are "callout qualified" and may respond when requested to a SAR operation. Active status is rewarded to probationary members who:
    1. Complete basic SAR training
    2. Participate in at least seven drills and training sessions so as to demonstrate competency in basic SAR operations as determined by the officers in the initial one year probationary period*
    3. Acquire a SAR 24 hour pack that has been approved by an UVWRT officer.
      * Relevant training received outside of UVWRT may also be counted towards competency requirements if 1) it is documented and 2) approved by the Team Leader.
  3. Inactive Member

    Inactive status is achieved by a member with active status who formally requests to be placed in inactive status for an extended period of time. Inactive members are still encouraged to attend UVWRT drills and meetings. Inactive status is to be utilized by active members who realize that their schedule may temporarily preclude a full commitment to the team.
    1. Inactive members may respond to calls only at the discretion of the Team Leader.
    2. Members who request inactive status may revert to active status upon request. If inactive status is desired for longer than one year, approval must be received from the Team Leader. Upon returning from inactive status that has lasted longer than one year, a reversion to probationary status may occur at the discretion of the Team Leader. This also applies to Active members who have been placed on Inactive status due to a lack of minimum annual participation (see Article III, Section 5 (f).
  4. Specialty Skill Certification

    Qualified members skilled in specific areas are encouraged to develop "internal interest groups" that concentrate on certain areas of skill development (e.g., medicine/first aid, low angle rescue, rescue, navigation, survival, communications, etc...) The purpose of these "interest groups" should be to further develop expertise in the field, and to certify those with certain levels of mastery. Any member may propose the development of a "interest group". Specific criteria for operations and certifications must be developed and formally proposed. The Team Leader must approve all specialty "groups" and their certification standards. "Interest group" membership and certification is open to all UVWRT members who meet listed objective criteria, and any special training sessions will be open to all team members.

    "Membership" and "certification" in such sub teams awards no special privileges other than the additional likelihood of being utilized in the field in areas pertaining to their expertise.
  5. Officers:

    Officers are active members that have been appointed to positions of added leadership and responsibility by the Team Leader. (See ARTICLE IV Section 1 (d).)
  6. Committees:

    The Team Leader may form committees to provide additional resources to certain tasks that are particularly important or time-intensive. The committees would be led by a committee chair; would meet independently; and would then be responsible for updating the officers at a monthly business meeting.

Section 5 - UVWRT New Member Training Process

  1. The complete new member training process will only be held once a year, and should last no longer than 6 months.
  2. All trainees will receive the training schedule before applying and will be required to commit to making all training dates. It is expected that all trainees make every effort to attend every training.
  3. The trainee must notify the UVWRT Training Officer as soon as possible regarding an absolute schedule conflict with a new-member training. All missed trainings must be excused by an officer. While a make-up training is sometimes possible, it is not guaranteed, and thus a missed training may significantly delay completion of the training process.
  4. There will be three types of new member trainings: classroom, outdoor skills, and practical drills. At practical drills, the trainee will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in a certain set of skills. If this proficiency is not met, additional trainings may be scheduled to reinforce the skill. Several trainings are run by NEK9 in order to acquaint trainees with their particular requirements and procedures.
  5. All trainees must complete an interview with the Team Leader and UVWRT officers prior to the start of the training process.
  6. All trainees must complete an interview with the Team Leader and UVWRT officers prior to the start of the training process.
  7. All trainee applications must be approved by the Team Leader prior to the start of the training process.
  8. All trainees will need to successfully complete the fitness requirements contained in Article III, Section 6 (i).

Section 6 - General Requirements for Maintaining Membership

All active and probationary members must adhere to the following guidelines.

  1. Dedication and Professionalism. Members are required to display a level of dedication and professionalism appropriate for a volunteer rescue organization. Levels of dedication are made evident in areas such as the following:
    1. Preparation (e.g., maintenance of a 24 hr pack, general physical fitness and a readiness to respond).
    2. Participation in team activities.
    3. Communication (See ARTICLE III SECTION 5f).
    4. Cooperation with others.
    5. General Conduct.
    Failure to display an appropriate level of responsible behavior and following the above guidelines are grounds for dismissal.
  2. Payment of annual dues.

    Members must remain current in the payment of annual dues. Payment of annual dues may be waived at the discretion of the Team Leader for those members who have contributed products or services of significant monetary value to the team.
  3. Members are required to respect the Constitution and Bylaws and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's).
  4. Attendance at UVWRT functions
  5. Must attend one of two annual full team meetings (but are strongly urged to attend both)
  6. Active members must participate in at least seven events (drills, trainings, callouts, team meetings) per year to maintain Active status. Active members who do not maintain this level of activity will be placed on Inactive status.

    As a volunteer organization, UVWRT does not demand perfect attendance at all functions. However, UVWRT members are expected to attend all functions given advance notice. Members who are aware that they are unable to attend a function should notify an UVWRT Officer ASAP. Attendance requirements for the various membership status levels are detailed in SECTION IV.

    An inadequate level of participation is grounds for dismissal from the team. ("Participation" refers not only to a physical attendance but more importantly it includes general communication. Absences can be accepted and understood if , in the case of prescheduled events, appropriate notice is given beforehand.)

    In the case of unscheduled events (e.g., activation for an emergency search) it is implicit that UVWRT members must make all reasonable efforts to respond when called upon. However, it is always left to the discretion of the individual UVWRT member to decide whether he/she will be able to respond to a given call.

    Personal discretion is relied upon for UVWRT members to decide when their current condition prohibits functional operation in the field, although
  7. Communication - Team coherence is possible only if proper communication between members exists. Members are expected:
    1. To respond to all notices requesting a response.
    2. To remain in general communication with team leaders concerning all matters relevant to participation in either prescheduled or unscheduled events. (e.g., inform an officer if injured, leaving town, new contact number, or otherwise generally unavailable, etc...)
    3. Members aware that they are unable to attend a function should notify an UVWRT officer before the function, or at least as soon as possible.
    Inadequate communication with the team is grounds for dismissal.
  8. Physical Fitness

    All members must meet an annual physical fitness requirement as established by the Training Committee subject to Team Leader approval. The current requirement is to hike a defined route with a full SAR pack in an established time either in a group training event or individually by setting a waypoint at the beginning, hiking the route, setting the ending waypoint and sending the saved track to the Standing Committee.

Section 7 - Criteria for Expulsion from the Team

Criteria for expulsion from the team include any one or more of the following:

  1. Failure to attain active membership status by the end of the one year probationary period.
  2. Failure to meet the general membership requirements, including
    1. Failure to pay annual dues.
    2. Failure to display an appropriate level of responsible behavior when representing or interacting with UVWRT.
    3. Failure to respect the Constitution and By-laws.
  3. An Inadequate level of participation or communication as described in SECTION 5.
  4. At the discretion of any UVWRT officer, a member may be expelled from any field operation without argument. Any challenges to such dismissals are to be reserved until the operation has ended. Arguing with an officer in the field is grounds for immediate and permanent expulsion from the team.
  5. A member may be expelled from the team by the Team Leader.

ARTICLE IV - UVWRT Structure and Organization

Section 1 - The Chain of Command

  1. General

    Both in and out of the field a clearly designated "chain of command" exists for the leadership positions. The chain of command is in part determined prior to a callout (team leader and officers form the first part of the predetermined chain of command) but may be altered in the field due to absences, illnesses, or other conditions. For this reason, a team member should prepare to be able to carry out the duties of any team position, including that of team leader.

    There are two separate atmospheres under which the team operates. The first is the day to day routine of training and existence, where time and conditions permit general discussions over various issues, and strict adherence to the chain of the command is often unnecessary. Members are encouraged to contact officers or other members with questions, concerns, or suggestions. In fact the team desires that all members provide feedback, comments, critiques, and suggestions. Individual initiative is the source of a volunteer organization's strength, and it is highly regarded and supported.

    The second atmosphere occurs during field operations, where there is a rigid and clear "chain of command". Argumentative comments, critiques, and dissent have no place during the course of field operations, and they should be withheld until operations have ended. Strict adherence to the chain of command is absolutely necessary in the field

    All members are autonomous to the degree that they cannot be asked to do anything they are not willing to do. Any UVWRT officer can dismiss someone from the field at any time without discussion, and that person must be prepared to leave as ordered. This is only done when necessary to protect the group and maintain the safety of its members. It is a condition of membership that members understand and accept this situation
  2. Team Leader

    UVWRT is headed by a single leader, designated the TEAM LEADER. The Team Leader runs the organization from day to day, and is the leader in the field. All decisions not brought to a vote are made final with the decision of the Team Leader. It is the responsibility of the team leader to oversee all team operations. These responsibilities include:
    1. Command and control of the team.
    2. Interpretation and completion of tasks assigned during field operations.
    3. Personnel management.
    4. Equipment management.
    5. Briefing and Debriefing the team.
    6. Safety.
    7. Documentation and Reporting.
    The position of Team Leader is acquired by a majority vote in a general election. Elections are to occur whenever necessary or every (2) years, whichever is sooner. The team leader has the power to appoint other officers and/or create new positions as deemed necessary including the position of executive officer who shall have the authority to act in place of the team leader as necessary. (See ARTICLE V SECTION 2)
  3. The Incident Command System

    UVWRT recognizes the universally accepted Incident Command System (ICS) as the general team management system. This flexible system simply requires both that a clear chain of command exist, that all "orders" originate only from within the designated chain of command*. Unless otherwise specified, the UVWRT chain of command is depicted in the general schematic of Article IV, Section 1. The Chain of Command runs as follows: Team Leader, Executive Officer, Safety Officer, Training Officer, Medical Officer, Communication Officer, Dispatch Officer, Treasurer, Secretary, Equipment Officer and Membership Officer.

    Note that field conditions (such as absences, illnesses, etc...) may require changes to the above system. The chain of command must be clearly outlined prior to the actual departure for a SAR operation.

    Also note that the Incident Command System is infinitely flexible and that positions within the chain of command may be created and/or expanded as conditions arise. (For example, a medical officer may be appointed to oversee/manage patient care; a rescue specialist may be designated to oversee all roped operations, etc.)

    *See SOP's as the safety officer and other special offices used during field operations have extra privileges in the chain of command.
  4. Officers

    The following officers will be appointed by the team leader to fulfill these duties:
    1. Executive Officer - acts in place of the Team Leaders and handles other duties as assigned.
    2. Safety Officer - views all activities to ensure safe operating conditions.
    3. Training Officer - Oversees team training sessions
    4. Medical Officer - Oversees medical issues related to the team
    5. Communications Officer - Oversees team's communication modalities
    6. Dispatch Officer - Maintains the most current contact list for team personnel and distributes updates to officers and team members
    7. Treasurer - handles all team money. Records of expenditures must be kept, and are open to the general membership. No funds are to be allotted without a record of approval by the Team Leaders.
    8. Secretary - creates and maintains UVWRT team records. Records of attendance, meeting topics and other items should be maintained.
    9. Equipment Officer - Manages team equipment.
    10. Membership Officer - maintains membership records and certifications
    11. Other officers as created and assigned by the Team Leader

ARTICLE V - Limitations of power

Section 1

  1. General powers

    The Team Leader, with the consensus of the officers, is free to run and develop the team as deemed desirable. (e.g., call meetings, run drills, expand the team directions, etc...) Decisions can be made by the team leader and the officers without a general vote, as long as no requirements are made of the entire team. Any changes that would require compliance or effort of the team in general must be presented to the team and approved by a majority vote. However, it is the team leader's requirement to ensure that all members are updated to any and all changes made at any time.

    UVWRT officers reserve the power to dismiss anyone at anytime from the field as deemed necessary. No challenges to such dismissals will be tolerated in the field - all such challenges must be made after the field operations have desisted.

Section 2 - The Specific Limitation of Powers

  1. General

    While in general the officers are free to run the day to day governing the team as deemed necessary , all decisions that may effect the entire team must be approved by a majority vote.
  2. Appeals/Challenges

    If a team member disagrees with a decision or action of the team leader, a squad leader or any other officer, such disagreement shall be brought forth to the officers at a regular business meeting with at least two week's notice. The officers shall discuss the disagreement with the team leader and the member to try and resolve the issue. Should the issue not be resolved to the member's satisfaction, the member may initiate an impeachment process of the team leader as per ARTICLE V, SECTION 2d

    If an appeal is requested, the vote should be held as soon as convenient, preferably within 2 weeks of the request.
  3. Ballots

    For matters to be decided by vote, efforts to meet the following criteria should be made:
    1. Preservation of anonymity (e.g., secret ballot) when deemed appropriate
    2. When deciding a majority or 2/3 vote, only those members present at the meeting (or who desire to cast an absentee vote) is required so long as the meeting was scheduled sufficiently in advance. (at least 1 week advance notice) Impeachment is an exception (Article V SECTION 2d).)
    3. Members should be encouraged to exercise the right to cast an absentee vote if they are unable to be physically present at the time of the vote.
  4. Impeachment

    The Team Leader, may be impeached by a 2/3 majority vote taken from ALL members of the team. If an impeachment occurs, at least a temporary replacement must be chosen for immediate replacement. A petition signed by 1/5 of the active team members must be presented to the officers to initiate an impeachment.
  5. Amendments

    Changes and/or amendments to the constitution are allowed upon approval by a simple majority vote.
  6. Other

    For all situations not specifically mentioned or provisioned for in the constitution, a simply majority consensus of the team officers is required for action. All such actions are subject to appeal/challenge (except in the field).

ARTICLE VI - Guidelines for Team Operations

Section 1 - Acknowledgment of Guidelines

All material contained in Article VI is to be considered guidelines and suggestions only.

Section 2 - Daily Administration

  1. Team meetings

    General meetings should be held at least (2) times a year, with the announcement of the meeting made at least a week in advance, with at least one reminder to follow the week of the meeting. Business meetings shall be held monthly at a day announced at least a week in advance by the team leader.
  2. Team Goals

    The team leader should outline projects and goals for the team at least once a year. The projects should be prioritized, and methods for accomplishment should be suggested or solicited.
  3. Training

    Training sessions should be held on the order of once a month. The sessions should be aimed at maximizing field performance, and may follow the National Association for Search and Rescue's SAR Technician Standards.
  4. Recruiting

    Recruitment of members should be pursued as needed to maintain a level sufficient to staff field operations. Predictions and foresight of times of low membership should be countered by a proper recruitment and training strategy.
  5. A note to team members

    Initiative and dedication are the foundations of a successful volunteer organization. Input of time, energy, effort, ideas, and help is always welcome. Always suggest ways to improve the team, and individual efforts to take the initiative and make improvements happen is highly desired.

AMENDMENT I - Communication by Computer

Section 1 - Email

  1. Email is considered an accepted and official form of communication. All members who receive communications by email are responsible for reading the message in its entirety and responding to any directives contained within.
  2. Members without access to email are to be notified of all pertinent information by person, phone, or letterand shall take the initiative to keep in contact with their squad leader or the team leader about team activities;
  3. Upon receiving a message either headed or concluded by "Reply Required" or words to that effect, all members must reply as directed in the content of the message.
  4. Repeated and inexcusable failure to reply as directed may be considered grounds for dismissal as described in ARTICLE III, Section 5e.


Section 1 - Dues

  1. a. Dues are to be annual in nature and collected for a given calendar year. Members joining more than half way through a year are only responsible for half the dues amount for that year.

    The amount of dues is to be determined by a team majority vote that should be held at least once every (2) years.

Section 2 - Records and Purchase Authorizations

  1. An accurate record of team finances must be maintained. Summaries of the team's finances are to be made to the team at least once a year. The records may be maintained by the Treasurer, but at least yearly a detailed financial report must be submitted to the Team Leader.
  2. Any purchase consuming over $50 of UVWRT funds must be approved by a consensus of the team officers.