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From the PRSAR President--Pros and Cons of Volunteer Civilian Searchers
One of the greatest advantages for the civilian teams is that they spend more time training in SAR than their Law Enforcement (LE) and Fire Safety (FD) counterparts. Due to budget constraints many LE and Fire/Safety departments cannot go to seminars or seek out the best instructors in SAR as the Civilian teams can. As a result, on many searches, the civilian responders have taken the lead because of their advanced training.
On the bad side, we live and die on our credibility and reliability. I cannot tell you all the stories I have heard about the miraculous Bloodhound that tracked the missing girl 7 years after she disappeared or the wondrous Cadaver dog that has a "zillion" finds and never offered a false alert or had a miss! I personally investigated as many of these as I heard and have even paid for demonstration of the dog’s prowess only to be disappointed at the results. I am a person that believes all people start off with the best of intentions, but the pressure to be recognized or take on searches that are beyond a person’s ability often reveals character flaws that sorely need to be addressed. Law Enforcement agencies take a big gamble in using a civilian team and we at PRSAR take that trust very seriously. All of our teams will have their criminal background checks, their log books (PTB) and credentials available for inspection at any time. We constantly train with blind and double blind problems so our searchers are the best we can offer. We train hard to be prepared and we will do an outstanding job on the searches we choose to take on.
Changing the Paradigm
In the Spring of 2015 the Board of Directors decided to take a different direction with Volunteer Search & Rescue (VSAR) in Florida. For years, many so called SAR teams were really nothing more than glorified dog clubs and the lack of standards and common training caused great safety concerns and made many operations less effective. During some searches, these volunteer teams performed so badly that areas already searched had to be searched again when people were discovered in these "previously cleared" areas. The Florida Association of Search & Rescue (FASAR) tried to deal with this problem through the Wilderness Search & Rescue (WSAR) group, but that program has failed and Florida is left without an effective SAR Council to advise on standards and safety.
In response to this failure, the Peace River Search & Rescue Association took an agency approach rather than the team approach which failed in the past. Protocols and evaluation standards were developed based on accepted ASTM standards and enforced through regular training and evaluations by outside evaluators. Peace River K9 volunteers spend a minimum of 16 hours per month in training learning not only K9 handling skills but First Aid, Patient assessment, stabilization and packaging, Advanced Land Navigation/GPS, Search strategies and techniques, Low Angle Technical Rope Rescue and much more. Our K9 and Mounted animal assets are trained with positive and Humane training methods. We strive hard to stay current with the latest Animal Training methods. Our Search Specialists whether they are Divers, Flankers, Medical Specialist, JEEP or Drone drivers, will be highly trained and very competent. PRSAR is set up to be a stand alone unit capable of operations in a disaster environment for 72 hours. We have our own Command & Control, Radios and other equipment making the demands on EOC or Law Enforcement very light. Our Searchers are trained to quickly merge in with existing operations and will get to work, get the job done and done correctly when deployed. All of this is provided to the requesting Agency at no cost!
Peace River K9 Search & Rescue Volunteers ask for so little --- but give so much!
Give us a call today and let us assist you!
See you out there!
Peace River K9 Search and Rescue Association, Inc.
A Florida non profit 501c3
Email is email@example.com
“A Righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” – Proverbs 12:10 KJV