What standards must SAR responders meet?

Successful responders know that they cannot reliably do anything that they’re not also reliably trained to do.

So adequate training is paramount for anyone participating in Search & Rescue activities.

Common training requirements are:

  • Crisis Response Leadership training
  • Incident Command System (ICS)
  • Navigation
  • Blood Borne Pathogens
  • CPR/Basic First Aid
  • K9 Operations
  • Radio Communications
  • Many, many more ….
NOTE:  These topics and many more are covered in our courses.

Sponsoring agencies and volunteer teams alike often have specific training requirements that address internal policies, etc. as well.


The list of training requirements can be extensive - and intimidating. They're there for good reason though.

Remember, this is a life-saving business and the worst thing that can happen is for a SAR event to become a 'patient generator' due to responders working beyond their level of training.

Working within your level of training is essential to SAR success!

My belief about good training is from participating as a responder in hundreds of actual searches and as an instructor to thousands and thousands of other responders.

Quality training matters.

There are some national standards, from both governmental and private sectors that guide and in some cases dictate which training standards some responders must meet.

  • In my experience, most volunteer SAR teams either self-certify or require that their members obtain their own outside training and certification to be deemed mission-ready.  Nonetheless, if you are planning to advance your SAR career, you'll want to be familiar with those standards.
  • I provide a more detailed view and explanation in the SAR Training and Standards lesson located here.


Think about what else you do well in your life that is the result of good training.

  • Can you juggle a soccer ball 30 times? If so, you trained well enough to accomplish that.
  • What about your job? Do the best performers also engage in the best training?

It's unavoidable ... we are all a product of our training, regardless how good or plentiful that training is.

Speaking of standards, the most popular download on my website is a free downloadable/printable pocket card that displays the official FEMA Search, Victim and Building Markings.  

Request yours below (link opens in new tab):

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