Has anyone started their own team?

Discussion in 'Search, Rescue and Technical Skills' started by Odinborn, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. Odinborn

    Odinborn Member

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    East Central PA
    Not sure if this thread would be in the right place, but I'm getting no help anywhere else I ask on the inter-webs. I live in a pretty rural, spread out county of PA, and I believe that we have a serious lack of, and need for, a more local SAR team. All the research I have done as to groups close to Schuylkill County end up as dead ends. The county is located in the east central region of the state, with the two closest groups being based almost 2 hours away.

    Seeing that all the "local" groups are almost 2 hours away in travel distance, not counting the time to make/receive the phone calls and gather people together. I can see a major need for a local group, even if it's a smaller one that focuses on grid searches, man tracking, and mine rescue at least the community would have boots on the ground in a much quicker manner. Especially since our area is dense forest on the outskirts of the Appalachian Trail, and full of old coal mines.

    My fiance works for a day program in the area as a Direct Support worker for people with developmental disabilities. When she got the job and I started hearing about the amount of people with Alzheimer's, Autism/Asperger's, Down Syndrome, it helped me reignite the spark to find a SAR team. I even mentioned all this to her, and asked her to find out if any of her co-workers would be willing to join if I could get a team approved.

    On this same note though, although I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors and I'm comfortable with learning new things, I have basically no experience in SAR. I know how to handle myself, but I also know that it's a very self-funded program to start and myself as well as the other volunteers would need to do a lot of training. I've contacted the two closer SAR teams to me, and all they say is "we would welcome you but you live far away and it costs a lot of money to train".

    I suppose that my questions for you good folks would be:

    1. Have any of you fought through the bureaucratic tape to get your own team started? Or know someone that has?

    2. How difficult is it? What are things to focus on (besides funding)?

    3. Is there any training I can search out for myself that would help a governing body see that I'm serious/capable?
  2. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall ESEE Knives / Randall's Adventure & Training Staff Member

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    Most all SAR in our area is managed through EMA. With that said, we have started our own SAR team and there is a state organization that has certain requirements before you can be a member of the organization, which basically puts you in the "recognized" category. It is not an easy task wading through everything trying to figure it out because many states basically don't have set rules published anywhere to tell you what to do.

    First of all I would suggest forming the group as a non-profit. Once you do that then you need to check to see what your state requires for minimal standards, equipment and training. From there (and perhaps the hardest part) is finding dedicated and motivate members who have a passion for training and actually doing the work. Our team is just getting started and being based on remote, small team rescue and cave rescue. We are putting the charter members through a lot of training now to include minimum required medical, as well as land navigation, basic wilderness survival, swift water rescue, high angle rescue, SarTech, etc. Most of the guys we have as charter members on our team are already squared away on the rescue and med side.

    Some organizations you should research are NASAR (National Association for Search and Rescue). You should also look at the NFPA standards 1670 and 1006. 1006 will give you good personal rescuer standards for wilderness rescue and can be used as a baseline for your training and what you need to do. You should also write an SOG (Standard Operating Guideline) for your organization which can include the standards that you choose as a baseline for new members, continuing education, etc.

    In the end, it's not the easiest thing to form for a lot of areas since it's almost who you know as much as what you know but there are very good private non-profit SAR organizations out there that are not state funded. Main thing is have a definite goal and don't give up because there are a lot of hurdles, but if you're passionate enough then it can be done.
  3. DesertFox

    DesertFox Member

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    United States
    Jeff makes some excellent points.

    May I suggest:
    1) Establish a state-recognized nonprofit organization
    - This is the lowest cost mechanism to become a legal entity

    2) Establish a 501(C)(3) nonprofit
    - This is slightly harder because you will need to complete some forms and pay a filing fee to the IRS, but establishing as a state non-profit should make it easier to file.

    3) Establish a Citizen Corps council https://www.ready.gov/citizen-corps or Civil Air Patrol wing.
    - This is perhaps the easiest step, and will allow you access to training from state OEM and US DHS/FEMA.

    4) Solicit donations or seek funding from your state OEM
    - You need to have some donations to meet the public funding requirements of the 501(c)(3) and it provides an excellent way for ensure that your team is sustainable.

    5) Establish a CERT team
    - This is a complete entry level program to help people secure homes during disasters, prepare for weather events, assist developmentally disabled persons during an emergency, etc.

    6) Seek out SAR training after completing CERT, some basic first aid/CPR courses, and sorting funding.
    "HAWK MOUNTAIN SEARCH AND RESCUE SCHOOL" would be my first place to look at, especially since you are local to it.

    Hope that helps.

    Zeek likes this.
  4. BushcraftKilburn

    BushcraftKilburn Member

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    Eastern United States
    Side note:
    HAWK Mountain is also where PA, NJ, NY and WV CAP USAFA wings do some training. Specifically cadet but SM as well.

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