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September/October 2009

Management and Operations

ASTM International Committee F32 on Search and Rescue is currently developing a number of proposed new standards. Two of the proposed standards under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F32.02 on Management and Operations are WK23984, Guide for Level 1 (Basic) Mounted Search and Rescue (MSAR) Responder, and WK24699, Guide for Training for Land SAR as a Level 1 Out of Area Disaster Responder. Interested parties are welcome to be part of F32 activities.

Mounted Search and Rescue

Trained search and rescue personnel who deploy on horseback in searches for missing persons and people providing basic nontechnical rescue services on these missions will be the principal users of WK23984.

According to Tomi’ Finkle, chief, TROTSTAR Mounted Search and Rescue Team Inc., and a member of F32 and Committee E54 on Homeland Security Applications, many mounted search and rescue responders throughout the world do not currently have an approved set of operational standards. WK23984 would provide this standard.

“The knowledge, skills and abilities of any search must be predicated on a basic set of operational standards when these responders are assigned to deployment in search missions for a lost or missing person,” says Finkle. “Once WK23984 is approved, MSAR strike teams everywhere will be able to point to a single source document that is reflective of their specialized industry standard.”

Land SAR

WK24699 will address the need for providing basic requirements for a trained searcher to respond out of area as a disaster resource.

Jorene Downs, trained emergency and disaster volunteer, chair of the National Association for Search and Rescue mounted SAR task group, and an F32 and E54 member, notes that spontaneous volunteers may be used during a disaster, but primarily volunteer trained land search and rescue resources are often not activated and should not self-deploy. The proposed new standard would help identify disaster search and rescue as a valuable asset and encourage disaster-related activation, increasing the number of regional and nationwide disaster resources as land SAR personnel choose to acquire the additional training.

“Once approved, the proposed standard can be used by any level of emergency and disaster management, from local to national, to either train personnel or to request personnel trained to the standard to respond as basic disaster resources,” says Downs.

According to Downs, the basic training specified in WK24699 builds on existing emergency response and other skills well-suited to many disaster incidents. “WK24699 requires some basic knowledge for land SAR personnel that is more specific to understanding hazards potentially encountered in a disaster environment,” says Downs. “Unlike the spontaneous volunteer, SAR personnel are trained and equipped for more challenging terrain and weather conditions and should already have a background check.”

Downs says that WK24699 has high value for all interested in homeland security, particularly those interested in identifying and using additional resources that already exist by applying those capabilities to a large incident.

“Hopefully, as SAR becomes better organized across each nation, the regions, states and provinces see the value in using existing emergency resources trained as basic disaster resources, and even develop pre-plans that include funding for additional equipment that can be used during a search,” says Downs.


Technical Information: (WK23984) Tomi’ Finkle, TROTSTAR Mounted Search and Rescue Team Inc., Marbury, Md.

Phone: 301-412-5249

(WK24699) Jorene Downs, CEOates Ranch, Dublin, Calif.

ASTM Staff: Thomas O’Toole

Phone: 610-832-9739