What exactly is Search & Rescue? What do we do? How often do we deploy? Are we law enforcement? Do we get paid? These are among the more common questions we get asked frequently.
So – we created this FAQ to give you some answers.
What exactly do we do? We are a team of highly trained volunteers who are ready to help whenever and wherever or help is requested. We are a State of New Mexico recognized Search&Rescue organization, but we also provide assistance within our area. We are part of the HOME coalition providing help to the underserved parts of our community. We have the training, equipment, vehicles and tools to get things done – in the wilderness or in our city streets. We also provide a variety of FREE trainings to anyone interested: American Heart Association CPR/AED, Stop The Bleed, uAV/Drone training, GPRS radio information.
What is Search & Rescue? Whenever somebody requires assistance in the wilderness, or if a person doesn’t make it home in time, Search & Rescue is called up and we go out, locate the subject and render assistance. We work under the supervision of the New Mexico State Police but we are not law enforcement. We are never deployed to locate fugitives from justice or to deal with criminals. That is not our job.
How often do you go out on missions? That very much depends. Sometimes we have two or three mission a month, sometimes we don’t have any missions in half a year. But we are always prepared and ready to deploy. And we stand ready to support our communities whenever our help is requested.
What kind of equipment do you use? We use modern technologies such as thermal vision, drones, GPS, computers, digital maps and communications, off-road vehicles even helicopters. But we also use old fashioned ropes, compass and maps. And we train our members to be able to work with all of that.
Do you need a lot of training? We have frequent trainings. Because we have to be able to deal with any situation we encounter while being out in the wilderness. And our members love to get their hands on gadgets and to try new things. But what is even more important is the team. We rely on each other and we have to trust each other. That means we need to know each other very well. One way to do that is to train together. And to have fun together.
What about physical fitness? There are physical fitness requirements for field personnel. That means for those who want to go out on missions. But those requirements are not too arduous and almost anybody should be able to pass with a little bit of preparation. Our auxiliaries do not require physical fitness evaluations.
What do auxiliaries do? Our auxiliaries are the backbone of the outfit and they are as important as the field personnel. Among other things, they support the team on missions, help when the community request assistance, staff the communications posts, help with fund raising, update our web-site, are admins for our Facebook page, design flyers and documentation.
Am I too young (or too old) to join? You must be 18 to join. But there’s no real age limit. We all come to a point where we don’t want or can’t do certain physical things anymore. But not everybody needs to be a ground pounder (going out into the wilderness on foot). We also need drone pilots, communications and computer specialists, ATV and 4×4 drivers. And some of us transition into leadership positions or auxiliary roles.
How much time is required every month? We try to keep limit the time to 12 to 15 hours per month (not counting missions). We have at least two trainings a month, one business meeting and some class room training. Sometimes we have fund raisers or community missions, but we try to balance it in a way that it doesn’t put too much of a strain on individual members.
What’s in it for me? You are not getting paid. Search & Rescue is strictly a volunteer thing. And I guess everybody has a different reason for volunteering. Some are tired of wasting time watching TV and want to do something more meaningful. Others want to experience a lit bit of real adventure. Some of us just want to be able to help. Or want to learn interesting new things, get back into shape a bit, looking for new friends. Whatever the reason – we do what we do to save lives. And that is the most important part.
Something else I should know? Search & Rescue requires commitment. Like with every other first responder job, the team must be able to rely you. You need to put in the training, get the certifications, show up on missions. Everything else we can help you with.