Rescue (SAR) teams look for missing people, in order to save their lives. They also provide aid to people who are experiencing distress, or are in imminent danger. Search and rescue teams use all resources available, to assist in disasters, and to locate and save lost, or missing persons who may otherwise not survive on their own, due to disasters, or from being lost in unknown surroundings. Search & rescue teams are first responders to people who are in dire need of help, just to survive due to circumstances beyond their control. There are sub-fields of search &
rescue teams, based upon territory, geographical differences in land, and conditions of the danger involved, or emergency situation.
The major specialties of search and rescue are:
Mountain Rescue (MRA) – search teams are formed specifically for mountainous, and rugged terrain. Victims are usually hikers, snow skiers, mountain climbers, or possible plane passengers in distress.
Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) – teams are organized for on land or inland waterway searches. SAR dogs are also used during these searches. Victims may include people with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, or dementia, and may be conducted in urban areas, but are not considered Urban search and rescues.
Urban Search and Rescue (US&R), also known as Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) – the US&R team is organized to locate and rescue people from collapsed structures, or other industrial entrapments. This team includes emergency agencies such as the police department, fire department, emergency medical technicians, medical doctors and nurses. Most US&R responders are trained in structural collapse rescue, dangers of live electrical wires, broken natural gas lines, and hazards related to earthquakes, terrorist attacks, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) – these CSAR teams are used during a war, within or near combat zones on the battlefield to locate and/or rescue soldiers and military personnel.
Air-Sea Rescue (ASR) – teams are developed to search for survivors of emergency water landings of aircrafts, or those who have survived the loss of their sea vessel. Flying boats, float planes, amphibious helicopters, land helicopters with hoists, and surface vessels are used in this type of rescue procedure.
In the United States, search & rescue standards are developed by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM), and the United states National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). A search and rescue team consists of a command staff, managed by the National Incident Command Structure (ICS), which interacts with other emergency agencies and trained SAR members, and volunteers.
Training for search and rescue field deployment requires that you be over the age of 18, and attend classes for certification which include radio communications, using a map and compass, basic land search, and team management, or base operations. The National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), offers education, training, and certification upon completion of training and written test. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) also offer education for search and rescue. Search &
rescue begins as soon as the officials are aware of the missing person, natural disaster, or accident, and stops only when there are no more survivors. Being on a search & rescue team takes time and dedication, but it could save lives.