What is the time commitment really like?
If you already have a busy lifestyle with very little free time on your hands, you should probably reconsider joining. While the time commitment varies, you can generally count on spending one weekend a month training plus any searches on top of that. Members are trained in First Aid, map and compass as well as GPS navigation, off track navigation, ropework, search techniques, tracking, helicopter operations, communications etc. These, however, are only a part of our overall training requirements.
Our busiest times have on very rare occasions had more than one call per day. Occasionally we have a several months with no calls. You will be on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and should be able to respond to a search within one hour. Your time commitment at a search will vary depending on the location and circumstances of the search. Whilst we recognise you will not always be available, your lifestyle, work, and other commitments should be somewhat flexible to allow you to participate in searches. Members are requested to attend 70% of the activities to maintain proficiency in the wide variety of skills needed to be an active member of the team.
We all volunteer to do rescue work because we enjoy it, so the time is usually not a burden, but it can affect relationships and employers. We ask prospective members to discuss this issue with their employers, family and significant others so that everyone understands and agrees up front.
As it takes over a year to train a person, members should be prepared to give at least a two-year commitment to SAR.
Who should I call if I have a lost person emergency?
For overdue/missing persons, contact the Police on 111, we operate as a service to the Police and cannot initiate a search.
How do you get called when there’s a rescue?
Calls regarding lost persons are initially handled by the Police. A vast majority of searches are successfully closed by regular police (An average of 15 searches a day, nationally) For any situation more than a short distance from the road or where the safety of the person is urgent, for instance, young children or elderly, dispatch will contact the Police Search and Rescue squad who may in turn call us out. When a call goes out, the initial phone contact will include as much information as is known about the situation – including the location to meet, the type of incident and necessary gear required.
Are you on-call 24 hours a day? What if you can’t make it out on a call?
SAR Volunteers are called out 24 hrs a day in any weather. As an active member you should always be physically and mentally prepared to respond.
We’re a volunteer group. Not everyone can make it to every call. Some members of our team have flexible work schedules or understanding employers. Others don’t. If you’re available to go to a rescue, you go. If you’re not, you don’t. However, you can join a search at a later time once you are available. We do have minimum attendance requirements to make sure that our members stay well trained and ready for rescues, but we also understand that members have other commitments and obligations in their lives.