K9 Search Technician
So, what does it take to become a K9 Search Technician?
Besides training the dog and having it certified through a rigorous evaluation process, a K9 Search Technician should be certified in search and rescue themselves and have a good understanding of lost person behaviour. There is a comprehensive list of knowledge and skills required to be a search and rescue technician. SAR Technician III is the first level and is an introduction to search and rescue training. SAR Technician II is the fundamentals of search and rescue which includes much more knowledge and skill in the field. SAR Technician I is an advanced level for people who may function as Crew Leader. Each level requires a written and practical exam, much like EMS training.
K9 SAR Inc K9 teams are required to be at a minimum the level of the NASAR SAR Technician II. The required skills include land navigation by compass, tracking footsteps, evidence detection on a route and in an area, and rope tying plus creating a harness from webbing. As well as this we require every member of the team to understand the AIIMS (Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System) and have advanced first aid skills.
One of the most important rules in search and rescue is to be prepared for anything during a search, such as an overnight or bad weather or getting hurt. We are responsible for our own safety first, even over that of the victim. That should sound familiar to EMS personnel! Another requirement we have is to gather the supplies for a 24-hour period and pack them into a backpack which we will then carry during the practical skills test. You will need to carry everything you need to survive and of course, K9 Search Technicians also need to carry water, food and first aid for their dog, which increases the load.
K9 SAR Inc holds high standards for members of the team, and that means we have a lot of learning and practice and review to do, not just for the exam but for real searches.