Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue / Urban Search and Rescue – Search and Rescue training programs are those courses that address the needs of police, fire-rescue, EMS, emergency managers, volunteer search and rescue responders, and others who might have a duty to respond to a search and rescue emergency.

 

Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) College 50 Hours
A GSAR College offers four separate SAR courses at one training event at the same time.  A GSAR College will consist of Field Team Member (FTM), Field Team Leader (FTL), Field Team Signcutting (FTS) and Management Team Member (MTM) Courses.  A GSAR College is presented over two weekends, typically held 2 or 3 weeks apart.  Students may only register for 1 course per GSAR College, as it will take both weekends to complete each course.  The unique learning experience of a GSAR College is enhanced by class interactions and a large-scale mock mission held on Saturday night of the second weekend.  The GSAR creates a life-long experience for the students as they forge new relationships with other SAR responders from all across the Commonwealth.

  • Prerequisite: Per each individual course.

Learn more about the GSAR

 

Field Level Training
Field level search and rescue training offered by the VDEM Search and Rescue Program Office leads to individual certification upon successful completion of the course.  These courses are intended for those individuals who participate with an affiliated organization as part of a planned response to a search and rescue incident.  Typical student make-up of these classes would include those individuals from; police, fire-rescue, EMS, and volunteer search and rescue groups.

 

Field Team Member (FTM) 50 Hours
Entry-level field training designed to introduce the field responder to standardized practices for a search and rescue response.  Course content includes an overview of the state system, legal concerns, SAR operations, search strategy & tactics, personal preparedness, wilderness survival, land navigation, and basic wilderness rescue.  The FTM course consists of approx.  60% classroom and 40% field instruction.  Fieldwork is held regardless of current weather conditions unless extreme conditions present personal safety concerns.  Successful completion prepares the student to function adequately as a Field Team Member under the direct supervision of a trained Field Team Leader.  The FTM certification is valid for a period of 3 years.

Prerequisites:

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Affiliation with SAR response organization
  • It is recommended that you complete the following National Incident Management System (NIMS) training from Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Courses prior to class.
    • IS-100
    • IS-700
    • IS-800
    • IS-809
  • Physical Ability and Conditioning: Search and Rescue is hard, physically demanding work.  Prospective students to the field classes must be capable of ascending steep slopes (up to 60 degrees) over rough terrain, in the dark, while carrying a backpack that may weigh up to 40lbs.  After several hours in the field under the previously described conditions, the student will then enter the rescue portion of the course.  During the rescue, SAR personnel will assist in the carry-out of a patient as part of a rotating 6-person team.  The litter with patient package may weigh up to 300lbs.  If you are not physically capable of such strenuous activity, pleasedo not sign-up for this class.

View the Field Team Member Equipment List

 

Field Team Leader (FTL) 50 Hours
Intermediate-level training in search team management, implementation of search tactics, supervision of team performance, proper use of semi-technical rescue equipment, and evacuation management.  The FTL course consists of approx.  60% classroom and 40% field instruction.  Fieldwork is held regardless of current weather conditions unless extreme conditions present personal safety concerns.  Successful completion prepares the student to function adequately as a Field Team Leader under the indirect supervision of the Operations Section Chief.  The FTL certification is valid for a period of 3 years.

Prerequisites:

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Current certification as Field Team Member
  • Affiliation with SAR response organization
  • It is recommended that you complete the following National Incident Management System (NIMS) training from Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Courses prior to class.
    • IS-200
  • Physical Ability and Conditioning:Search and Rescue is hard, physically demanding work.  Prospective students to the field classes must be capable of ascending steep slopes (up to 60 degrees) over rough terrain, in the dark, while carrying a backpack that may weigh up to 40lbs.  After several hours in the field under the previously described conditions, the student will then enter the rescue portion of the course.  During the rescue SAR personnel will assist in the carry-out of a patient as part of a rotating 6-person team.  The litter with patient package may weigh up to 300lbs.  If you are not physically capable of such strenuous activity, pleasedo not sign-up for this class.

View the Field Team Leader Equipment List

 

Field Team Signcutter (FTS) 50 Hours
Designed as an introductory course focused on the fundamental principles of clue awareness, the FTS course delves into the ancient art of Mantracking.  Course content includes the identification and interpretation of sign, track team tactics, and the appropriate deployment of signcutting skills within the SAR environment.  The FTS course consists of 40% classroom and 60% field instruction.  Fieldwork is held regardless of current weather conditions unless extreme conditions present personal safety concerns.  Successful completion prepares the student to function adequately as a Field Team Signcutter under the direct supervision of a trained Field Team Leader.  The FTS certification is valid for a period of 3 years.

 

Prerequisites:

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Current certification as a Field Team Member
  • Affiliation with a SAR response organization
  • Physical Ability and Conditioning:Search and Rescue is hard, physically demanding work.  Prospective students to the field classes must be capable of ascending steep slopes (up to 60 degrees) over rough terrain, in the dark, while carrying a backpack that may weigh up to 40lbs.  After several hours in the field under the previously described conditions, the student will then enter the rescue portion of the course.  During the rescue SAR personnel will assist in the carry-out of a patient as part of a rotating 6-person team.  The litter with patient package may weigh up to 300lbs.  If you are not physically capable of such strenuous activity, pleasedo not sign-up for this class.

View the Field Team Signcutter Equipment List

 

Management Level Training
Management level search and rescue training offered through the VDEM provides a series of in-depth studies focused on the philosophy, science and theory of managing the missing person search.  These courses are intended for experienced, lead individuals who will be responsible for the planning, execution, and overall direction of a missing person search.

 

Management Team Member (MTM) 40 Hours
The MTM Course is designed as the entry level introduction to the management process for Search and Rescue incidents. Students will be introduced to the make-up and processes involved in managing a search incident. Skills taught include initial actions, map segmenting, task writing, task briefing/de-briefing, support roles and many other skills. Additionally they will learn how all the skills mesh together into a process to accomplish the goals set forth by Incident Action Plan for the incident. The MTM course consists of almost entirely classroom instruction.  Successful completion prepares the student to function adequately as a part of the management team for search and rescue incidents under the direct supervision of a Management Team Leader.  The MTM certification is valid for a period of 3 years.

Prerequisites:

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Affiliation with SAR response organization
  • Field Team Member (volunteer SAR groups only)

or

  • SAR First Responder ( Law Enforcement/Fire/Rescue/EMS only)
  • Must be proficient with map skills
  • It is recommended that you complete the following National Incident Management System (NIMS) training from Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Courses prior to class.
    • IS-200

 

Management Team Leader (MTL) 40 Hours
The MTL Course is designed as the Supervisory level course in the management process for Search and Rescue incidents. Students will be taught the processes involved in managing a search incident. Topics covered include the initial actions, the planning process, resource requisition and deployment, operational responsibilities, supervisory skills and roles when acting as a Search Mission Coordinator on smaller incidents. Additionally they will learn how to facilitate many processes including Consensus Planning, developing the Incident Action Plan, for the incident, interviewing and the demobilization process. The MTL course consists of almost entirely classroom instruction.  Successful completion prepares the student to function adequately as a leader of the management team for search and rescue incidents under the indirect supervision of a Search Mission Coordinator on larger incidents or as the SMC on smaller incidents.  The MTL certification is valid for a period of 3 years.

Prerequisites:

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Affiliation with SAR response organization
  • Lost Person Behavior Course
  • Management Team Member

or

  • Previous Completion of Managing Land Search Operations (MLSO)

and/or

  •  Practical Search Operations (PSO) in the last 3 years.
  • Must be proficient with the following management skills
    • Reflex Tasking
    •  Map segmenting
    • Initial Consensus process
    • Task Writing
    • Briefing/de-briefing
    • Support functions
    • MTM Skills set
  • It is recommended that you complete the following National Incident Management System (NIMS) training from Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Courses prior to class.
    • IS-200

 

Inland SAR Course Overview

The 5-day Inland SAR Planning course is a comprehensive, “graduate-level” look at search theory and its application to land and air searches for missing persons and aircraft, focusing on wilderness, not urban, searches. The course consists of classroom lessons and practical, tabletop exercises. This course does not incorporate field training. Emphasis is on the planning necessary for effective area-type searching during an extended search using Probability of Success (POS), rather than just a few elements of POC or POD, to allocate limited resources to their best effect. In essence, what to do after the rapid (hasty) search and specialty resources have not found the search object. Additional topics include pre-plan development, legal aspects, NIMS ICS applied to SAR, the federal role in SAR, and related subjects. The course does not teach search tactics or technical procedures, as those are well covered from other readily available sources.

The course is directed toward SAR leaders in federal, state, and local emergency services and law enforcement, as well as Civil Air Patrol, international, and volunteer SAR agencies — those few people who are responsible for the planning and overall conduct of inland search missions. The target audience includes on-scene incident commanders and their planners, operations leaders, and up-channel reporting chain. The general searcher or search team leader, while arguably the most important part of the SAR team, will not find this course useful. Aiming to “find the objective fast,” the course centers on tools to help SAR decision makers determine where to search, how to divide an area between limited search resources, and how to craft the overall search effort to gain the best increases in likelihood of success at each step. The tools are mathematically based and not for the faint of heart; they help quantify the uncertainties of the search problem to allow consistent application throughout a mission.

Classes begin promptly at 0800 on the convening date and graduate by 1530 on the fifth day. Prior to class, students should review and be conversant on the following from their own agencies in order to make class discussions more useful and help integrate class materials with their own search environments back home:

  • Search pre-plans
  • Decision making guidelines for where/when/how to search
  • Agreements and relationships with other SAR agencies
  • How their agency organizes on scene
  • Recent search missions
  • A firm grounding in SAR terminology and employment techniques, practical SAR experience, basic arithmetic and calculator skills, an understanding of local SAR mission management requirements, and an open mind are essential.
  • Download and review prior to start of class – Dennis Martin Search

 

Course Fee:There is NO course or tuition fee for U.S. students (volunteers and government employees) directly involved in SAR planning and management activities.

 

Managing Land Search Operations (MLSO) 40 Hours
MLSO is an advanced management-level course that presents the core of search philosophy, theory, and statistical probabilities.  MLSO is designed for experienced SAR practitioners who are transitioning to management functions as well as senior law enforcement personnel who are responsible for the response and investigation of missing persons.  Emergency managers and other public safety personnel who take an active role in the management of SAR incidents are also invited to participate.  All course work is done in a classroom environment.

Prerequisites:

 

Practical Search Operations (PSO) 40 Hours
Practical, hands-on management course for search managers and management staff.  PSO addresses the actual functions of managing a search operation under the Incident Command System (ICS) in a step-by-step approach.  Organizing the staff, planning, operations, information management and documentation are presented in discussion and tabletop exercises.  All course work is done in a classroom environment.

Prerequisites:

 

Incident Commander for Ground Search and Rescue (ICG) 24 Hours
ICG is an advanced management course for experienced search management personnel.  It goes beyond theoretical MLSO training and prepares the student to manage complex type II (multi-agency) searches as General Staff members or as a Type III Incident Commander.  Subjects include ICS, SAR operations and tactics, resource management, SAR legal documents, IC roles and responsibilities, ground aspects of aircraft searches, command staff, and plans.  The course makes extensive use of map problems, practical exercises, simulations, handouts and lectures.

Prerequisites:

 

National Inland Search and Rescue School 40 Hours
Jointly operated by the United States Coast Guard and the United States Air Force, this 5-day Inland SAR Planning course is a comprehensive, “graduate-level” look at inland search theory and its application to land and air searches for missing persons and aircraft with a focus on wilderness, not urban, searches.

The course consists of classroom lessons and practical, tabletop exercises.  Emphasis is on the planning necessary for effective area-type searching during an extended search using Probability of Success to allocate limited resources to their best effect.  Additional topics include pre-plan development, legal aspects, NIIMS ICS applied to SAR, the federal role in SAR, and other related subjects.

The course is directed toward search managers in federal, state, and local emergency services and law enforcement, as well as Civil Air Patrol, international, and volunteer SAR agencies — those few people who are responsible for the planning and overall conduct of inland search missions.  The target audience includes on-scene incident commanders and their planners, operations leaders, and up-channel reporting chain.

Prerequisites:

  • Managing Land Search Operations
  • Practical Search Operations
  • Incident Commander for Ground Search and Rescue

or

  • Management Team Member
  • Management Team Leader
  • Search Mission Coordinator

 

Other Programs: The VDEM Search and Rescue Office provides or arranges additional training and presentations either by request, or as dictated by need.

 

Search and Rescue First Responder 16 Hours
This course is designed for law enforcement and emergency services personnel who are the first responders to a search and rescue incident.  The intent of the course is to provide enough tools to adequately evaluate an incident and to take appropriate initial actions.  The basics of search planning and tactical operations are presented.  Specialized resources and their appropriate use are discussed.  SAR First Responder is normally provided upon request of a local jurisdiction, well in advance.

No prerequisites.

 

Preventive Search and Rescue (Lost But Found…) 1 – 4 hours
Preventative search and rescue training for young children starts at the preschool level.  The course describes how to keep from getting lost and what to do if lost.  It has proven to be a lifesaver in numerous documented cases, nationwide.  “Lost But Found” can be presented within the school system or to private groups.  Upon request, presentations are normally provided by the nearest volunteer search and rescue group to the hosting organization.

 

Search and Rescue K9 Basic 32 Hours
Entry-level specialty training designed to introduce new canine handlers to the standardized practices for a search and rescue response in the Virginia System. This course is held over 2 weekends. Along with their canine partners students will work with experienced instructors throughout the course. Course content includes an overview of the state canine standards, legal concerns, SAR operations, search strategy & tactics, personal preparedness, wilderness survival, land navigation and scent theory as they apply to use of the canine. Workshop will include opportunities to work on and complete the requirements for aggression testing, agility testing, and the written test. All disciplines are covered, with break-out sessions for individual disciplines to work on specific skills. This course consists of approx.  30% classroom and 70% field instruction.  Fieldwork is held regardless of current weather conditions unless extreme conditions present personal safety concerns.  Successful completion prepares the student to continue the process of becoming a certified canine team.

Prerequisites:

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Affiliation with K9 SAR response organization
  • Have a Canine partner and actively working toward state certification.
  • It is recommended that you complete the following National Incident Management System (NIMS) training from Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Courses prior to class.
    • IS-200
  • Physical Ability and Conditioning:Search and Rescue is hard, physically demanding work.  Prospective students to the field classes must be capable of ascending steep slopes (up to 60 degrees) over rough terrain, in the dark, while carrying a backpack that may weigh up to 40lbs.   If you are not physically capable of strenuous activity, please do not sign-up for this class.

 

Search and Rescue Seminar for Law Enforcement 8 hours
SAR Seminars for Law Enforcement are conference style, one-day events designed to educate and inform the agency senior personnel who are responsible for the investigation of missing persons.  The seminar is focused on the relationship between law enforcement and search operations, as well as legal liability issues and appropriate use of SAR resources.  Seminars are normally hosted by a local jurisdiction providing classroom facilities, and without cost to the participating agencies.

 

Search Dog Workshops 20 Hours
Various workshops are offered on an infrequent basis depending upon the needs of the SAR community and available funding to support the training.  Specific course information will be posted when workshops are >Community Emergency Response Team Courses.

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund