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Handlers and Support Personnel
|Standards are high, handlers are required to meet those
standards in dog training, handler skills and group integration.
The group consists of search teams and support personnel.
A Search Team: is composed of a dog and handler, both having spent a minimum of 200 hours of field training. The handlers are qualified first-aiders, skilled in map and compass, environmental hazards, terrain analysis and search techniques (strategy), as well as constantly up-dating the search skills.
Support Personnel: handle the communications as well as co-ordinating with the responsible agency. Along with this are many miscellaneous duties like keeping maps up to date, relaying information to the search teams, agencies, keeping the tea on and the safety of the teams operating out on the ground.
Teams travel in their own cars and are completely self-contained for up to five days.
Dog and Handler: take one year of extensive training to be operationally ready in open area search (G1), and another year or longer to specialise in specific area of search, i.e. buildings, rubble and water search (G2). Members of CASST are expected to do a lot of training in the evenings and at weekends, also by taking it in turns to simulate a missing person in the open, urban or rural environments. The specialist type of training will take place only during pre-planned training weekends or at the national training week. Dogs and handlers train in all weathers. The search work is provided free to the emergency services upon request, members are all volunteers, the give what time they can.
The Individual: search dog work can be very rewarding to the individual, it is difficult to express the satisfaction in helping to save a persons life. As well as the camaraderie that comes from working with others as a member of a close knit group, the enjoyment of working with your highly trained dog and the challenge of the work.