If getting out of bed at 2:00 a.m. and driving into the mountains to search for a missing person in a blizzard sounds like an adventure you would look forward to, then this might be the group for you.
The first step to becoming a member is to attend several practices and meetings so you can see how we train, and so you can get to know us and we can get to know you. You are welcome to attend any Monday night meetings and any Saturday morning or Monday night practices. We ask that all visitors please leave their dogs at home, and suggest you send us an e-mail to let us know you are coming: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first Monday of every month, at 6:00p.m., is a training or business meeting, usually held at BES’s headquarters, 3532 Diagonal Highway, Boulder. We have practices every 2nd, 4th and 5th Wednesday nights and every Saturday morning following those Wednesdays . Wednesday night practices begin at 6:00p.m. Saturday morning practices begin at 9:00a.m. Current practice locations for the month, as well as any special events are shown on our calendar on this website.
Our Saturday practices tend to be higher in the mountains and last longer than Wednesday practices. These practices are particularly important for navigation and longer search problems. We do not cancel practices due to bad weather. We search in most weather conditions so we practice in most weather conditions. On occasion we are called for a search during our regular practice time. In that case, there may be no one at practice. There is no way to notify people of this, so if you show up to practice and no one is there – enjoy a hike and try again.
Monday night meetings – the first Monday of most months – are held at the Boulder Emergency Squad Office at 3532 Diagonal Highway, Boulder.
Attending practices and meetings before applying to become an Applicant is important because becoming an Applicant requires an affirmative vote of the current members. We need to know who we are voting on and you need to understand what our group is all about so you know if it will be a good fit.
The following are requirements necessary to be considered for a vote as an Applicant:
Be at least 18 years old
Be physically and mentally able to perform the tasks common to canine search and rescue in varied environments and conditions
Not be a fielding member of another canine search organization fielding within Boulder County, Colorado other than FEMA
Attend a minimum of eight practices and one meeting per quarter
Maintain a professional image and demeanor when involved with FRRD in any capacity and act in good faith to further the purposes of FRRD
Notify the Training Lead of any affiliations that you have with other search dog organizations
As an Applicant you will work on a list of sign-offs that must be completed in order to be considered for Field Membership. These sign-offs include areas such as Navigation, Radio Communication and Air Scent Theory. There are not "classes" on each topic. In most cases you learn by working with members during practices, meeting with members outside of regular practice and by unearthing information on your own. Candidates have a maximum of one year to complete this training process and request to be voted on as a Field Member.
As an Applicant your primary concern is to become a Field Member, once that is accomplished, you can spend more time training your dog. Whenever possible we suggest people become a Field Member before they get a dog, although we know that is not always possible.
We accept applications to become an Applicant at our quarterly meetings. These are held the first Monday of February, May, August and November. It takes most people the full 12 months to become a Field Member and at least 2 years to certify with their dog. Once you become a Field Member it is expected that you will go out on searches with certified dog teams or as a ground searcher in order to gain experience in searching. This experience is crucial in gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to become a handler of your own certified dog.
Things to think about when considering joining a Canine SAR team
The fact that your dog needs a job or has a good nose is not enough. First of all – you are a wilderness searcher, and eventually your dog becomes one of your most important tools.
You have to be comfortable in the wilderness, in the dark, in bad weather, and in an area you’ve never been before. You don’t necessarily have to start at that level – but that is what you are working towards.
Being an active member of a SAR team is really a way of life, not just a hobby. To be the most effective you eventually need a vehicle that is good in the mountains, deep snow and possibly 4WD roads. You end up carrying your gear around in your vehicle all the time so you are ready to respond as quickly as possible. Your dog goes as many places with you as is possible based on the weather, etc., again, so that you can respond quickly.
SAR is not an inexpensive undertaking. Minimal gear is supplied by FRRD. We have group radios for communication on missions and at practices and there are some group GPS’s, avalanche beacons and Kestrel weather stations. All personal gear including clothing, skis, snow shoes, etc. are supplied by the members. Another significant cost is gas driving to and from practices and missions.