The vast majority of travelers, hikers and climbers will never need the services of a search and rescue (SAR) team.
When you need them, though, it’s nice that they’re there.
Saving someone’s life. Helping other countries improve their SAR and
disaster response capabilities, so we’re not needed anymore. Bringing
closure to a traveler’s family when the worst happens. The 1st Special
Response Group was formed to help in these situations.
We provide a wide variety of international SAR-related services at no charge or on a cost recovery basis. We work with family, government and local officials, and local SAR teams to find and recover missing persons. We also provide related training, consulting and support to foreign organizations and governments. We are the only non-governmental organization in the United States that provides these services internationally.
Our core services are:
We are always pleased to discuss ways we can support and collaborate with other organizations that go beyond these core services. If you think we can be of assistance to your organization, please contact us.
We are available for immediate deployment for either SAR or DR operations upon request. We are actively seeking to develop ongoing relationships with governments and organizations that may require our services in order to increase our understanding of local conditions in advance and decrease response times.
We provide international search and rescue services to locate missing persons
in a wide variety of wilderness, rural and suburban environments. These services
are available to assist local, state, national and international organizations
and countries. We can deploy in as little as 12 hours for periods as long
as a week without support, or several months with resupply and additional
The team travels with all food and equipment required for seven days of field operations. Local support is required for transportation to the search area, and for acquiring sufficient bottled water for seven days. (Water purification systems are included in the team’s gear if bottled water is not available in sufficient quantity.)
For a full operation, we deploy a team of up to twelve people, usually containing the following resources:
We provide specific sections in support of operations conducted by other groups and organizations. For example, we can deploy a communications section to support a medical team operating in a humanitarian aid mission, or a medical team to support an adventure race. All sections deploy with at least one overhead member for liaison, communications, safety, and logistical issues.
Available sections include:
We can organize an ultralight, two- or three-person team to assist in searches as an interface between foreign search and rescue organizations and a subject’s family. This section has been called out multiple times on its own. We have extensive experience cooperating with local authorities and other resources to maximize the chances of success in a search. We work with subjects' families to help them understand the complex, often distant and very unfamiliar situation and the structure of a search while gathering information from them to assist the search managers. This section can operate effectively without leaving home, although rare situations may require deployment. Should the search escalate to the point where a full 1SRG team is required, this advance involvement saves valuable time.
On occasion, there are sufficient local resources for conducting the search and they simply need an experienced management team to plan and conduct the operation; alternately, a fresh view of the situation may be helpful. In this case, we deploy only the management section. Also, if there is no reasonably well defined search area, the management section can conduct investigations and interviews in an effort to reduce the search area prior to deploying a larger team.
The medical section is designed to treat, stabilize and transport injured persons in a wilderness or disaster setting. Our medical skillset focuses on emergency medical response in remote areas, where traditional medical equipment and treatment are unavailable. This may include rendering care as part of our overall response objective, or caring for a sick or injured person while on a search and rescue mission.
We are not equipped for advanced life support (significant drug kits, electronic cardiac equipment, etc) or for surgery.
This section can operate in support of other search and rescue efforts, disaster response teams, expeditions, or adventure races and similar activities.
The communications section provides a variety of communications services in support of other efforts – humanitarian aid, adventure racing, disaster response. Generally this includes local communications services via VHF and UHF handhelds and base stations and long haul communications via satellite phone. Other options are available and the group is extremely flexible.
The logistics section is the jack of all trades group, coordinating equipment, shelter, transportation and other services. They are most appropriate when a group of specialists needs to operate in an unfamiliar environment and needs support to function efficiently, focusing on their own specialty without concern for day to day requirements.
The tracking section is a primary "first response" resource for missing person search operations. Because trackers can often find subtle signs of a missing person’s passage, and because they can supply considerable information on the person’s speed and direction of travel as well as overall condition, they are very useful in narrowing and defining a search area for other teams. This team is most appropriate in support of an overall search effort where there are otherwise sufficient resources, but no-one with the specialized training to follow human sign.
Canine teams can be useful in almost any kind of search and in most terrains. Our teams can search wilderness and rural areas, bodies of water, and disaster-struck areas. They can track a missing person’s scent through many types of terrain as well as urban and suburban settings. Standalone canine teams are appropriate only for some very specific situations – generally a more diverse team is appropriate.
We provide a disaster response (DR) group capable of searching safely and effectively in a disaster environment for up to seven days without support. This team locates trapped victims for extrication by local resources or heavy rescue teams as appropriate. We focus on integration with local organizational structures, HAZMAT and structural awareness, and self sufficiency. All of the canine teams are FEMA-certified, and all team members are certified in rescue response operations (Rescue Systems 1 Certification). All team members are cross-trained and fill multiple roles on any given mission.
Our humanitarian mission is inextricable from our search and response mission. Both are based on concern for the areas we work in and for the people we work with. Our humanitarian projects seek to substantively impact the quality of life of people in the countries we work in in ways that exploit our SAR talents.
We are adapting the techniques of wilderness medical protocols and instruction to conditions common to developing countries. This combines a rigorous standard of education with a creative mindset – it is based on the need to solve life-threatening situations with very limited supplies. Unlike most medical disciplines, it encourages practitioners to think outside the box: How can different materials can be used as splints? As antiseptic agents? This makes it particularly relevant to trekking guides and rural clinics.
find that there are always challenges in translating U.S. materials.
Some of the challenges are economic – these guides cannot afford the gear
U.S. courses take for granted – and some of them are local. High-altitude
guides need to know the symptoms of altitude sickness; tropical guides
need to know more about parasites; English comprehension and technical
We collect medical supplies that doctors and hospitals have donated and redistribute these to clinics and hospitals in developing nations. Generally, we send these to rural clinics we have an ongoing relationship with; on occasion, we will form a one-time partnership to meet specific needs.
We are actively looking for more partners and sponsors for both of these projects. We are also very open to starting up other projects that take advantage of 1SRG’s skills. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us.
We provide a range of widely accepted and well-recognized courses related
to SAR and DR. Some of the courses include Wilderness Medical Society Practice
Guidelines for Wilderness Emergency Care, Emergency Response Institute’s
Managing Search Operations, and the National Association for Search and Rescue
SAR Tech courses.
We also deliver custom courses based on our clients’ specific needs which take into account students’ education, language and experience. Many of our classes can lead to U.S. or internationally recognized certification.
We also are developing materials for teaching search and rescue courses at community colleges. Please contact us for more details on this program.
Finally, we assist other organizations in addressing the larger picture of how to build an emergency services organization. This addresses the whole spectrum of organizational issues including fund raising, training, standards, equipment, service areas, organizational structure, etc.