Yesterday, I received my certificate and patches in the mail for the NASAR SAR TECH III certification I earned a couple of weeks ago. I’m so excited to be a part of the search and rescue team – and I’m now qualified as “mission ready.”
For those of you in the know, this might not seem like a big deal. For those of you who don’t, here’s why – SAR TECH III is only the beginning – it’s entry level stuff. It’s only a written test that proves I know the lingo and understand a little more than the average bear about how to find lost stuff. Not to discredit the effort at all, since I did spend nearly 4 months working toward this milestone – but I’m no hero, either.
It all started in 2014, when I studied for and received my amateur radio license. I became a member of a group of radio operators and experimenters who love seeing what radio waves can do. They also love using those waves to serve their community. I was already bitten by the community service bug back in 2010 when I started storm spotting. Now, I’ve added amateur radio, joined ARES and completed CERT training to round out my public service portfolio.
With CERT only having once-monthly meetings/training and ARES supporting local events on an irregular schedule, I had room to try something new. K9 Search Oklahoma trains twice weekly and several of their members are radio operators, as well. I heard about their training sessions and was invited to join in on the action. That was the last time I remember having Thursday nights free.
Since June of this year, I’ve been out with the search and rescue team for nearly every training activity, doing everything from practicing radio communications to playing hide and seek. (Hide and seek is the fun way to say, “laying trails,” “burying source,” “flanking,” and “ground searching.”) It’s been a lot of fun trying to create realistic training scenarios, setting up equipment, doing “show and tell” at local events and trying to hide as well as I could from the canines, but still secretly hoping they find me so I can go home and eat dinner.
I’m looking forward to many more memories – and hopefully a lot of “finds” – now that I’m “mission ready.”