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Discussion Starter #1
So I have been thinking lately that if we ever got a GSD (or another dog for that matter) I would like to consider joining a SAR group and I was just looking for information on it. Now please forgive me, but I am going to bombard you all with questions :D and would appreciate any help I can get.

Any specific books or websites you would recommend reading?

How much does it usually cost? (I am not asking any of you to tell me the exact amount you pay or anything like that, just a rough idea)

What training and tests do you need to do/take?

How do employers usually react to you being in a SAR group? Any bad experiences?

What to look for in a SAR dog?

Do you have to travel for training? (like out of state or country)

What do you normally have to pay for when in a SAR group?

Can you go to meetings just to check it out or anything like that?

What questions should I ask when looking into joining a group?


I think that is it for right now, but I will probably have more in the future.
 

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I think the best thing to do is find a SAR group near you (there are several in FL) and ask to visit with them first. Some have outside funding to help, others don't and they have various differing requirements.

We tell prospects to expect to spend 2-3K per year on SAR related expenses out of pocket. All states/teams will expect ISC 100, 200, 700, 800, and 809 at a minimum, all free and online through FEMA. There are also classrom ICS 300 and 400 courses that many take but don't worry about now.

NASAR, www.nasar.org has SAR tech III, then SAR Tech II requirements that many teams require even if they use other agences for canine certification.

There is also disaster vs wilderness SAR, with disaster being a few elite groups though some state disaster groups have come up as well.

As far as employers, well that depends on yours. Even if I were young and fit enough to want to do disaster I could not be gone for several weeks at a time which is how FEMA deployments sometimes work. Most wilderness calls are a day or two and it is ENTIRELY between you and the employter. Some teams require a letter from your boss before they will even let you join.

Most trainings and meetings are open to folks who are not on SAR teams. NASAR has a big meeting in Myrtle Beach this May [I am not going because I will just be getting back from a cadaver dog seminar and can't afford to do both / take PTO for both]

Don't worry about what to look for in a SAR dog until you try it out with a team without a dog first. You need to be prepared in FL that poisonous snakes and gators are the norm but if a human life is at stake, putting the dog at risk is, well, that is SAR.

So number one. Find a team first and just talk with them ask to come to some trainings.
Number two. Don't get that dog YET. Follow their lead.
 

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Second what Jocoyn said. Find a team. Go to their trainings and talk to people. Figure out what kind if SAR you are interested in. I have done Wilderness, but now train and handle a USAR dog.

They both have their positives and negatives. It can take many years to train a dog. And lots if money, time, heartache, and a complete change in your life.

SAR is not a hobby. It is not something you do for fun in your free time.

Also many dogs do not have what it takes to be a SAR dog, so please think about what you will do if the dog you buy does not work. But now you have the "bug" and need another dog. It's a common problem.

Get in with a group. Find one you like, and look to them for guidance in what you need as a handler and finding a dog.


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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the feedback so far! We aren't even thinking of getting another dog for another year or two so I have plenty of time to go over my options and figure out what exactly I need. I will definitely look into the Groups around here and see what they are all about.
 

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Any specific books or websites you would recommend reading? William Syrotuck, Scent and the Scenting Dog

How much does it usually cost? (I am not asking any of you to tell me the exact amount you pay or anything like that, just a rough idea) My expenses are minimal as I live close to a team but I still pay all expenses and earn $0 for doing it. It's not something you'd want to do for fame and fortune ;)

What training and tests do you need to do/take? Anything you can get into, but start with all the basics, from learning which breed, obedience, tracking, trailing, air scent, live, HRD, etc ...

How do employers usually react to you being in a SAR group? Any bad experiences? Nope, hardly comes up.

What to look for in a SAR dog? High prey drive, excellent nerve strength

Do you have to travel for training? (like out of state or country) Most likely out of state unless you live somewhere where you can learn the basics.

What do you normally have to pay for when in a SAR group? All expenses for your travel, food, dog stuff, pretty much everything.

Can you go to meetings just to check it out or anything like that? Absolutely, I'd recommend doing that to start with before EVER getting your own pooch.

What questions should I ask when looking into joining a group? Anything
 

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A couple of books that I found informative and interesting were:

Scent and the Scenting Dog by William G. Syrotuck and William G. Sjrotuck

and

Analysis of lost Person Behavior by William Syrotuck, Jean Anne Syrotuck and Syrotuck
 

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There is a newer book on lost person behavior that is excellent


The scent and the scenting dog book is a classic

I imagine the NASAR fundamentals of search and rescue would be a good resource

You can go ahead and do the free online FEMA training ICS 100,200,700,800,809 as you will need it.

K9 Search and Rescue - Gerritson and Haak - good background info
Ready - Training the search and rescue dog by bulunda [there is a new 2002 version]
even the ARDA book is ok and it is cheap now:
Search and Rescue Dogs Traiing the K9 Hero [there is a newer paperback version]
 

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Emergency Management Institute | Independent Study (IS) - Course List

Links to the NIMS classes. They don't take very long to complete at all. You might also want to join with a local Ambulance company/Fire department as a lot of SAR groups require at least CPR/First Aid/AED at bare minimum, but I know all the ones I've looked at (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia) require at least First Responder or EMT.

There's a book I was given a few years ago...I don't remember what it was, but it basically prepared you for SARTECH 3 and SARTECH 2. Any of the SAR people out there remember what it was?
 

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Fundamentals of Search and Rescue -www.nasar.org

Don't forget the national conference open to all is in Myrtle Beach SC end of May. They are offering the SAR II test as well.

You get SAR III before SAR II. To get SAR I you need (or at least you did) a First Responder or EMT - AND- SARII - AND at least 100 hours of search experience. While I have the prerequisites I never felt the need though. I took the SAR I classes but for a live search I normally stay at the IC. [SAR I is for a crewleader] - The SAR III, II, I levels are for wilderness SAR.
 

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Fundamentals of Search and Rescue -www.nasar.org

Don't forget the national conference open to all is in Myrtle Beach SC end of May. They are offering the SAR II test as well.

You get SAR III before SAR II. To get SAR I you need (or at least you did) a First Responder or EMT - AND- SARII - AND at least 100 hours of search experience. While I have the prerequisites I never felt the need though. I took the SAR I classes but for a live search I normally stay at the IC. [SAR I is for a crewleader] - The SAR III, II, I levels are for wilderness SAR.
Thank you! I wanted to see if there was an updated version from the one I had. I was on the threshold of my 3 and was already preparing for 2.

Any tips for preparing for US&R?
 

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There is a small section in the newest ARDA edition about USAR. But mostly it's book about stories, not how-to.

Find out if your state has a USAR team, get the contact info and ask if they are accepting new team members and what is required. Some teams will only accept experienced handlers, dogs that are ready to FSA, and such. So it may be difficult to get on a team. But they may let you come out and train.


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Fundamentals of Search and Rescue -www.nasar.org

Don't forget the national conference open to all is in Myrtle Beach SC end of May. They are offering the SAR II test as well.

You get SAR III before SAR II. To get SAR I you need (or at least you did) a First Responder or EMT - AND- SARII - AND at least 100 hours of search experience. While I have the prerequisites I never felt the need though. I took the SAR I classes but for a live search I normally stay at the IC. [SAR I is for a crewleader] - The SAR III, II, I levels are for wilderness SAR.
Yeah, you still need bare minimum FR, at least that's what I was told 2 years ago. I have my Paramedic, so we didn't even touch on the medical requirements, lol.

I am going to order that book this weekend; I just re-certed in 800 and 809 and I want to get my III done by next week..

I have a family reunion the first week of June, so no conference for me, sadly.

There is a small section in the newest ARDA edition about USAR. But mostly it's book about stories, not how-to.

Find out if your state has a USAR team, get the contact info and ask if they are accepting new team members and what is required. Some teams will only accept experienced handlers, dogs that are ready to FSA, and such. So it may be difficult to get on a team. But they may let you come out and train.


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Sent an e-mail to the MD-TF1 guy today. Hopefully I got the right person. The website had an update date stamp of 2007...
 

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Dropped you a PM.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wow thanks for all the information guys. I will definitly look into all the books you guys mentioned and look into teams around me and when they meet.

Some other questions....

How many calls do you guys normally go on (I know it really depends on where you are and what what is goins on, but just an average range) in a mo0nth or year?

How many calls are you required to go on (or is that something that each group pretty much determines?
 

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Wilderness only

On average it has been about 30 calls a year for us but the live find volume has dropped for us and has for other teams we have spoken with in the Carolinas. Our own team has a 50% attendence requirement for calls. Each group would determine. Reverse 911 and better SO response has been a godsend.

In FL you may get more dementia calls I would imagine with all the old folks.
 

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Wilderness is different. When I was actively working a wilderness dog, I would go on as many callous as possible. We did my have a requirement, but it was understood that you needed to go to as many as you could.

I work disaster now. And our Task Force gets about 1 deployment a year for National response and maybe 3-4 for local response. But it depends on the year. TX task force is the most active, but it depends on your area.

If you know that you will be unable to deploy, for either type, a majority of the time, then SAR is not for you.

Call-outs rarely happen at a convenient time. They happen at 3 AM, on cold yucky days, Christmas morning, in the middle of work or your kids birthday party. If your work is not able to work with you, or you have unreliable child care, then rethinking SAR is best.

For me, deployment can mean being gone for 10 days straight, with 3 hours notice. So I am always prepared.


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Wilderness is different. When I was actively working a wilderness dog, I would go on as many callous as possible. We did my have a requirement, but it was understood that you needed to go to as many as you could.

I work disaster now. And our Task Force gets about 1 deployment a year for National response and maybe 3-4 for local response. But it depends on the year. TX task force is the most active, but it depends on your area.

If you know that you will be unable to deploy, for either type, a majority of the time, then SAR is not for you.

Call-outs rarely happen at a convenient time. They happen at 3 AM, on cold yucky days, Christmas morning, in the middle of work or your kids birthday party. If your work is not able to work with you, or you have unreliable child care, then rethinking SAR is best.

For me, deployment can mean being gone for 10 days straight, with 3 hours notice. So I am always prepared.
Like I said this is not going to happen for a few years anyway so I have plenty of time to think about my options and if I would be able to work my life and schedule around SAR. The advice is very helpful though and honestly inconvenience isn't all that big of a deal for me.
 
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