[MSAR] training response from Dana in Kansas

Joseph Huston jchuston at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 11 18:56:19 EDT 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
To: Mounted search and rescue
Sent: 7/11/2007 10:16:10 PM 
Subject: Re: [MSAR] training response from Dana in Kansas

Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse – subject training is important but unless you can run an emergency response organization or have someone (like a local government agency) do it for you, you cannot function in the current emergency response world.  NIMS is a national, standardized, incident management system. Each level of government is required to implement it as part of the (federal) National Response Plan so we all talk the same on those federally mandated interoperable radios. In my area a tanker is a lot of water on wheels, in most of the wildfire community it is a airplane that can dump a lot of water on a fire.  There is a disconnect if I ask for a tanker task force here and if I ask for one in California—here I get 5 or more trucks with several thousands of gallons of water each in them and in California I would get 5 DC-10’s flying over dumping 120 000 gallons of red dyed water (and the bill).  NIMS is supposed to avoid this by having everybody use the same terms and methods and paperwork.  Basic training is free at www.fema.gov  for 100, 700, 800 series courses.  In many states the 300 and 400 level classroom courses are also free. 
You will need infrastructure of your own or access to it on a reliable basis.  This means radios, pagers, and other equipment to command your people in the field. Maps will also be useful,  If you are going to be a true emergency response organization, and search is an emergency to quote ERI and NASAR, you will need a 24/7 dispatch center (preferable a government owned one so you don’t have to pay for it).  The team I am chief of is dispatched by a county PSAP/EOC (9-1-1) center using the county owned alpha paging system.  We have 2- 800 MHz radios to talk to the county on and 10- 150 MHz radios for internal use and to talk to other state agencies.  The dollar value of this minimal gear is close to $20,000 plus 17 pagers the county has given us so far. 
Depending on the state laws you will need insurance.  You may have to acquire workman’s comp, public liability, and various other coverages including bonds for your treasurer and officers. Do not contact horse show or riding club insurance companies—you will need the same coverage a volunteer fire company has.  
Then there is critical mass.  To be effective you have to be able to respond a reasonable number of riders and if needed command staff.  Field teams are usually 3 but never less than 2, and 3-5 teams should be an initial response.  You may need only a liaison person if someone else is in charge of the search or a full command staff if your organization is the incident commander.  You will also need some people to watch and keep track of your stuff, etc. Figure you need at least 3 times the people in the organization capable of responding as you need to respond.  If you have a lot of retired or self employed members this number may vary.  After a year of intensive theory and practical training we can reliably put out 2 field teams (6 riders) and 2-3 command post people.  This is about halfway to our goal for field response. 
Lastly, is what subject training you will need. First aid and CPR is nice and usually required by OSHA.  You can execute a provider agreement with the Red Cross so you can train your own people to their certification standards for about 10% of the cost of doing through community courses. You have to find out if your state has any search standards or for that matter assigns search to a government function.  Those are the standards you have to train to.  There are standards published by the National Fire Protection Association, the Mountain Rescue Association, NASAR, the ASTM, and various state search and rescue councils or associations.  They may or may not have the force of law in your state. And some of these may be dependent on what kind of organization you form. If you are classed as an EMS organization ASTM F30 series standards and Federal DoT ( DoT is in charge of ambulance standards since they grew out of highway safety initiatives) may apply. If you are a fire department NFPA may apply. In Pennsylvania an EMS provider needs to have an ambulance or other response vehicle to get a license to provide services and only training to EMT or better counts.  To be a PA fire volunteer fire company a municipality must contract with you to provide fire protection, or you may be a wildfire crew under contract to the state forests.  At least two SAR teams in Lancaster County, PA function as forest fire crews since the state pays for forest fire suppression by according to a formula and they want the money. 
There have been many discussions and presentations concerning organizing an emergency response organization and managing one, mostly in fire trade journals since so many fire organizations are volunteer. There is even a National Fire Academy course in how to be a board member of a volunteer emergency organization. And there are people who will provide you training at costs varying from travel expenses to several hundred dollars per day or session.  Get what you pay for and check out these trainers carefully. 
Irv Lichtenstein

From: msar-riders-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:msar-riders-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of ALLEN SNYDER
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 11:06 PM
To: Joan Pottinger; Mounted search and rescue
Subject: Re: [MSAR] training response from Dana in Kansas
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