I am not trained in Search and Rescue. Can I help?
The Agency in charge is responsible for the safety of everyone in the field. They cannot take someone's word for it that they are equipped and qualified. If someone gets hurt, the team has to pull precious resources off the search for this new emergency. When this has happened, "independent" volunteers actually hinder the search. If additional personnel are needed, the agency will request more trained personnel. Agency personnel must keep the media informed because the public has a right to know what's happening. In any emergency, the managing agency has assigned spokespersons to keep the media informed with accurate, pertinent information. Again, I encourage your desire to help and offer several ways to do so, focused on prevention: Donate money to NC C.E.R.T. for supplies needed to deliver school programs that teach children to stay put if they are lost. They teach parents to make scent articles for the dogs and shoe prints for the tracking team, this increase the search's chances of success. Invite members of NC C.E.R.T.. to speak to your local schools, clubs and/or organizations. If you have a large parcel of land, offer it to the dog teams for practice searches. Volunteer to be search subjects for the search dog teams at weekly practice sessions. Attend NC C.E.R.T.'s outdoor safety programs. Donate to NC C.E.R.T., a nonprofit organization. Team members have provided most of the funding for the essential equipment, but that is insufficient to provide for backup equipment or repairs. Sometimes it's not unusual for more than one search to be in progress simultaneously. Your donation would be applied toward specialized search equipment.
Why do people join NC K9 ERT?
The most common response we get to that question is that people want to give something back to the community and this allows them to do that and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. Most of us are also fascinated and challenged by the outdoor skills that we use to do search and rescue.
What types of careers do your members usually hold?
We have Mechanical Engineers, Nurses, Computer Techs, Artists, Mechanics, Machine Operators, Police Officers, Accountants, Attorneys, Moms, Dads, Teachers, ... maybe a list of jobs that members haven't had would be shorter?
What is the age range of your membership?
We have mostly 25 - 55 year old men and women but we have many members that are under 25 and a several that are over 55. Our 55+ members are usually very fit and are always trying to keep up with the youngsters.
What is FUNSAR?
Fundamental of Search and Rescue is a 47 hour class that is taught through out the state of North Carolina at different time of the year. The class normally takes two weekends with a week in between. The classes will begin on Friday around 7:00 pm until 10:00, and on Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 am end around 5:00 pm (1st weekend) The classes will begin on Friday around 7:00 pm until 10:00, and on Saturday at 8:00 am an go into the night so you get familiar with the not-so-unusual late searches and their associated hazards and complications. Class will end around 5:00pm on Sunday after the test (2ndweekend). A final field exercise that comes just before graduation lasts almost 24 hours and begins on a Saturday afternoon. It is designed to bring together all your recently learned SAR skills and test them in real-time under tough conditions. After successfully completing FUNSAR testing and training you will be qualified to respond to SAR incidents. You may then continue to take our classes and develop additional skills to acquire rescue and leadership skills.
If I already own outdoor gear, will I be able to use it for SAR?
Much of the personal equipment we require our members to own is basic, good quality hiking, camping, and climbing gear but there is a possibility that the equipment you currently own will not be ideal for our situation. We spend a lot of time in FUNSAR talking about the pros and cons of all types of outdoor gear. We don't require that you own anything before you start, and in fact, would recommend that you wait until you get this information from us in class before you make any new purchases or try to decide whether the gear you already have is appropriate.
When does a typical SAR mission begin and how long does it last?
We can't really anticipate when a call will come or what it will be about. We have just as many calls during the week as we have on the weekend. We tend to get more calls in the evening and they will last until morning. We usually don't spend more that 12 hours on searches. But, sooner or later, you will be on a search that begins on Wednesday and ends at on Monday.
How does a typical SAR mission begin?
A friend or family member of the lost subject will call 911 to report an overdue person. Dispatch will notify the Sheriff's Office, who will page the on-duty Emergency Management and they will begin planning the response based on the time of day, weather, condition and age of the lost person and several other factors. They will then request the resources that are needed. Team will be paged with basic information about the situation and resources will begin heading to the incident.
What other responsibilities will I have besides Search and Rescue?
We have a very active Public Education Program that focuses on preventive search and rescue. We believe one of our fundamental responsibilities is to give everyone in the community the knowledge they need to prevent outdoor emergencies before they happen. We also expect our members to help with fund raising, with our own internal training, with maintaining our technical equipment and vehicles, and with the numerous administrative tasks that keep the business running smoothly.
Where do you perform Search and Rescue?
We have a Memorandum Of Understanding with North Carolina Task Force One and Wake County Emergency Management that requires us to keep personnel and equipment available at all times for emergencies in the county and state, but SAR Teams throughout North Carolina assist one another whenever extra resources are needed. This mutual aid also extends outside the state to the national and international arena. Our specialties are canine search and water rescue (in training). We can also assist during floods and plane crashes in the wilderness.
What about medical training?
All of our operational members are require attend an advanced First Aid or DOT First Responder class and you will be expected to obtain that training on your own. However, we often have classes associated with this training. We encourage members to become EMT's but only if they have an interest in pursuing this higher skill level and want to spend the additional time and money. A fair number of our missions do not involve medical complications, but when they do, the appropriate medical resources are dispatched to the scene. The medical resources that can be dispatched to assist us are usually from the local EMS agency. The patient is then transported to the hospital by the appropriate medical resource. Due to the inherent dangers of our profession we recognize that medical assistance may be needed for us and since much of our training is in the urban and rural areas, we like to have medical people close by. We are happy to report that we only see an injured SAR person about once every five years. We practice our medical skills frequently but putting them to use in a real medical emergency is a rare occurrence.
Do I need any special skills or training before I can become a member?
No, we provide all the training you will need to become a basic search and rescue specialist. However, having extra skills will help you become operational sooner rather than later.
What about using dogs for Search and Rescue?
Dogs are a valuable tool in Search and Rescue work. NASAR has all the information you need to understand how dogs are integrated into SAR situations and how you can get involved. All of our dog handlers are required to be members of NASAR and must pass all of NC C.E.R.T. testing. Dog handlers choose and own their own dogs and spend at least 2 to 3 days per week training with their dog. It takes an average of two years to fully certify a search dog and handler team. Any of the larger breed working dogs usually are a good choice for a search dog but you can't tell for sure until you begin the training.
If I join, how much time will it take?
We say that the average active person will spend about 500 hours each year doing something related to SAR. We have training class one weekend a month from 7:00 pm on Friday to 5:00 pm on Sunday. Administrative meetings are held once a month. Team members will train with other members on an average of twice a week. A couple of weekends a month members are attending training somewhere else, which typically last at least 8 hours. We will have at least 2 big fund raising events each year that are 2- 3 days long. Public Education classes are taught at various locations and venues in the members own community and typically take 2 members at least 2 hours per class plus drive time.
If I join, how much money will I spend?
You will need to purchase or have available approximately $1,500.00 of personal equipment. This may seem high but experience has shown us that the higher quality gear will hold up in tough conditions and is a better long-term investment. That means initially spending more money. The Fundamentals of Search and Rescue class is about $100.00. We try to do a lot of carpooling but there will be extra gas money involved while you join us in our frequent explorations of the state. If you are a gadget freak you may want to consider a 2nd mortgage on the house because there are lots of gadgets in our business but that's your choice. Simpler is probably better.
Who pays for Search and Rescue?
We receive financial support from our communities by way of individual donations, foundation grants and fund-raising events. We are a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) North Carolina corporation and all donations are tax-deductible. Our members pay for their own equipment and the other miscellaneous costs like gas, food and medical training. When we have an incident, the requesting agency usually has food delivered, if it goes beyond 12 hours. The debate continues in many venues about the cost of SAR and billing those who get in trouble. We believe that charging fees will only delay the calls for service, and time is always critical when people are lost or injured. We are fortunate to have our community support and our members usually cover their own expenses.
Are there any paid positions on NC K9 ERT?
No, we have no paid positions on the Team. We are 100% unpaid.
Are you employees of a Sheriff’s Office?
No, we are un-paid volunteer search and rescue professionals and we all have regular jobs in our respective communities.
Who is legally responsible for Search and Rescue in NC?
By letter from the Governor, the county sheriff is responsible for Search and Rescue in their county, unless the county commissioners appoint another agency to have the responsibility.