There is a lot to know about Search and Rescue. Where does one start? Listed below are some suggestions about how to go about building SAR skills and what areas to concentrate on. It is highly recommended that all team members purchase and then study a SAR manual. An excellent and inexpensive manual is the Search and Rescue Training Associates' Ground Search and Rescue (210 pgs paperback., 3rd ed, 1989) [Available for $19.75 from Search Equipment Company at 1-800-473-4901]
#1 The ABC's
#2 The Incident Command System
Work on understanding the concepts and implementation of the Incident Command System (ICS). You absolutely must learn how to operate within the chain of command, and to represent the team well. Learn how it is organized, and master its often peculiar terminology. (Be sure you know the size of UVWRT's single resource!)
Master the basics of map and compass. Learn to read terrain. With a compass, concentrate on knowing how:
With a map, concentrate on:
#4 Search Techniques
Know the basics.
Search Theory: Learn about confinement, "clues", active and passive tactics, how the search area is determined, bastard searches, and why interviewing so important.
Search Practice: Know how to perform Type I, II and III searches. Know what the guiding system for type II and III searches involves.
#5 Patient Packaging
Know how to help assist in packaging of a patient into a Stokes Litter. Know what jobs need to be done, and how to do them. How is it done if it's raining hard, snowing, or windy? Also know how to help carry a litter on an evacuation. Learn how to switch in and out of a litter team smoothly and quickly. Learn how to help litter team members when you are free.
#6 Radio Communications
As you will learn, field communications provide the key to operating effectively. You need to learn how to use a radio, what the basic protocol and principles for basic radio communications are. You need to learn how to take care of the radios in the field and how perform basic troubleshooting when things don't work at first.
After learning the basics, then concentrate on more advanced concepts including search management, technical rescue, medical care, etc. Drills will expose members to aspects of advanced SAR, but it is always important to master the basic skills first. The knowledge and skills listed above are the most likely to be utilized repeatedly!