The primary mission of the Search Unit is to provide specialists in tracking and navigation. This Unit provides extensive expertise in ground search activities and provides support to other units during search missions. The unit is responsible for training personnel on tracking and navigation skills along with teaching basic tracking and navigation.
The members of the Search Unit are major participants in field teams during actual missions. Because they employ no more than their own feet, to traverse the terrain, they are often referred to as the, “Ground Pounders”. A title they proudly sport! The Search Unit members are prepared for field team assignments and leadership.
Members of the Search Unit are trained in both tracking and navigation. Tracking is both an art and a technical skill. Members of the Search Unit are highly trained and skilled in preserving and assessing the PLS (point last seen) for clues and sign left behind by the subject, and in determining a direction of travel of subject. They specialize in discerning disturbances on the ground and in the brush to detect the slightest indication that a person has or has not passed through an area. They are trained in both, step by step tracking. They are highly trained specialists in the use of map and compass and GPS units to navigate through any type of terrain and can provide navigation support for any team.
All members of the Search Unit are required to attain certification in both tracking and navigation within one year of entry into the Unit. This is accomplished through training, testing, and mission experience.
Each year the NC K9 E.R.T. offers a course in Tracking and Navigation. The courses include both classroom and field training and are in addition to the basic tracking and navigation training received in the FUNSAR/SARFUN. After completing the courses the member must complete and document 36 hours of training each year to maintain their certifications. Mission experience is counted toward certification.
Overall the Search Unit offers an exciting opportunity to participate in demanding assignments on critical search and rescue missions. By developing and utilizing specialized search skills; training with enthusiastic, highly skilled personnel; and being prepared to take on field team leadership responsibilities.