Frequently Asked Questions about Membership with PRSAR.
Many people have expressed an interest in knowing more about the Peace River K9 Search and Rescue Team and what it means to be a member. Typical questions about the applications, interview and membership process and about time commitments are presented below with answers.
What does Search and Rescue involve?
Most of our call-outs involve wilderness searches in difficult terrain. At times, Peace River K9 Search and Rescue responds to searches from both individual call outs and Mutual Aid requests. A number of those searches occur during extreme weather conditions and at night. This requires members to have above average endurance and to feel comfortable in the great outdoors. Searching can be very rewarding, but also draining, both physically and emotionally. Our unit is also called upon to conduct evidence searches for major crimes, including homicides. Our members are trained in emergency medical response, low angle rope rescue/extraction, GPS, map and compass navigation, search techniques, man tracking, etc. These are, however, only a small part of our overall training and operational requirements for PRSAR.
How often are training's held?
Deployment training's are on the first and third Saturday of each month, and are from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Training's are cancelled if it coincides with a holiday or the team is deployed. Additional training's are held for members of the K9 and other specialty teams. These additional training's are optional for general members. Prospective members are invited to attend general training's.
How much of my time will I need to devote to SAR if I am to be a productive and active member in the unit?
If you already have a busy lifestyle with little free time on your hands, you should probably reconsider joining PRSAR. While the time commitment varies, you generally can count on spending two weekend days per month training and the first and third Saturdays for deployment training's. You will be on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and should be able to respond in person to a search call out within one hour. Your time commitment at a search will be between 12 and 24 hours depending on the location. While we recognize that you will not always be available, your lifestyle, work and other commitments should be somewhat flexible to allow you to participate in searches. Members are required to attend 60% of the training's and 30% of searches to maintain proficiency in the wide variety of skills needed to be an effective team member. This is also the attendance level required in order to remain as an active member of the unit However, if you if you are not seen at training's or search for 60 consecutive days you will be dropped from PRSAR. As it takes almost a year to train new members, you must consider a two-year commitment to PRSAR.
How often would I be called out?
While we never know how many or when a call out will come, members of the Peace River K9 & Rescue unit are the first responders for search emergencies in Southwest Florida, and are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We understand that school, work, sport teams, and family commitments are priorities, being a member means making every effort to respond to incident call outs, even if you must leave or not attend a planned event. You may be called for a search when you may be at work, school or anytime during the middle of the night.
How old do I have to be to join Peace River K9 Search and Rescue?
You must be 14 years of age (Cadet) by the application deadline to apply for membership.
What is important to include in the application?
Include any and all outdoor, SAR-related, military or leadership experience you may have. You may also describe additional experiences in that portion of the application.
What does the interview involve?
All perspective members will be asked several questions by a panel of interviewers. The questions will cover your background, outdoor experience and activities as well as a rescue situational question. The interview will last about twenty minutes.
What are my chances of being accepted into the unit?
Your chances are excellent but will depend on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, your previous experience, how you present yourself and the number of new members we are able to accept into the team at the time of the interview.
I can attend most of the scheduled SAR Academy Training dates, but I have a conflict on one of the afternoons. Can I miss part of the training's?
Yes, but it may affect your being deployed and you might have to wait for make up sessions These 50+ hours of intense training will enable you to be mission ready. Most Search and Rescue Teams require months of training before new recruits are eligible for missions. If you are unable to make the training dates we encourage you to reapply at a later date.
Will my background be investigated?
Yes. All prospective members who have been selected after interviews will have to submit a FDLE Level 1 background check. There is cost to the applicant for the background check of $24.00 paid online to FDLE. It is important to PRSAR that all members are of sound character and show good judgment in their personal conduct. Members will often be involved in sensitive situations requiring trust and the ability to respect confidentiality. They will also be expected to consistently maintain a personal lifestyle of an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. Note that recent drug use, including medical marijuana, alcohol problems and criminal activity will likely disqualify you. Older drug use or criminal situations are considered on a case by case basis.
What are the physical requirements?
You must be in good physical condition. Physical requirements have been designed to outline the minimum level of physical ability a member must possess in order to be an effective search resource. Some operations will require significantly more agility and strength. Members will be screened to ensure they are able to perform operations beyond minimum requirements. The basic level requirement is the PMS 310 work capacity test which requires a walking pace of one mile in less than 16 minutes. A Moderate level is a 2 mile walking pace with a 25lb backpack in a time under 30 minutes.
What kinds of training will I receive?
Over the course of a year, you will receive training in wilderness survival, GPS, map, compass and orienteering skills, medical training, man-tracking, search tactics, rope/low angle rescue and helicopter operations. You will be expected to attend almost all trainings.
I just want to do JEEP and Communications. Do I have to participate in other activities?
Yes. All members must complete the same training requirements and must be prepared to carry out any task assigned during an exercise or search as well as their specialty.
Will I have to provide my own personal equipment?
Yes. You will need to purchase (if you do not have them already) good hiking boots, a backpack, rain gear and uniform clothes. A more complete list will be given to you if you are selected as a member. You will be expected to have all equipment after 12 months. You must have all the above minimum equipment prior to going on searches. The SAR unit will provide such items as radios, patient first aid equipment, rescue equipment, etc. You must have an active cell phone subscription (preferably smartphone) for receiving call-out pages.
Is there a probationary period?
Yes. New members are in a probationary status for the first-six months in the unit. At the end of this period, new members will be evaluated on attendance, uniform, training, professionalism, and ability to carry out assignments and the ability to work with and get along with other members of the unit. Successful completion of this probation period and requirements will result in promotion to full membership.