Frequently Asked Questions
Alpha Search and Recovery gets quite a few questions about how to join the team and how to help. Here are some of our most common questions with answers.
How can I help Alpha SAR?
Volunteer or Donate! Alpha SAR is always looking for new members with and without canines. We also could use monetary or equipment donations. Alpha SAR receives no funding and is run out of grants and our own expenses.
How do I join the team?
We recommend coming out to a few trainings to make sure you understand what Alpha SAR is about and are truly interested in joining. Once you are satisfied that this is something that interests you, we will give you an application and upon approval and dues paid you will be recognized as a general member.
How do I become a full team member and eligible to go on searches?
To be eligible for full team membership, you are expected to complete a specific set of skills found in our task book IV. Tasks are basic understanding of searches, safety, navigation, etc. and training is provided by the team. This minimum requirement ensures everyone has the skills needed to safely and effectively go out on a search.
When does Alpha SAR train?
Alpha SAR trains on a weekly basis as an entire team (usually on weekends) and holds additional training sessions during the week for handlers to focus on canine training. Weekend trainings last 3 to 4 hours while weeknight handler training sessions last 1 to 2 hours. See the calendar on the back and online for details.
Where do you get your dogs? Will you train my dog?
Alpha SAR dogs belong to the owners who train them and are members of their family. Alpha SAR trains dog/handler teams; we train you to train your dog and form a dog/handler bond.
What breed of dog is best for search and rescue?
The breed of dog is not as important as the dog’s motivation and drive. The best dogs for search and rescue are the dogs with “high drive” or love toys and will do anything to get them.
Can my dog do search and rescue?
Before the training process begins, Alpha SAR will evaluate the drive and socialization of the dog. Dogs must be comfortable around new people and new dogs since they will be working in that environment.
What if I don’t have a dog?
For each deployed dog, three to four people are needed for other search aspects including: radio communication; navigation (compass and GPS); clue awareness; and safety. Every member of a search team is integral to a successful and safe search. The team will not deploy without enough members to ensure everyone’s safety.
What kind of equipment do I need?
Team members need to wear adequate clothing (may encounter thick brush, heat, cold, etc.) and carry a pack containing water, first aid, and navigation equipment. Additional equipment may be needed for the canine handlers and technology specialists. The searcher’s personal equipment is an individual preference and is the responsibility of the individual. Alpha SAR will provide a team uniform for full team members once they have completed initial training. However, having the equipment is not an up-front requirement to attend training. Adequate clothing, footwear, and water are the minimum requirements to attend trainings.