Hey everyone!


I am currently starting the process of creating a Non-Profit Volunteer Search and Rescue Organization in Los Angeles County. I know most of the basics when it comes to what I need, but any advice or facts or info you can share with me is a plus!!!! I could use any help I could get. Also looking for grants/funding. If you know were i can apply for a grant or funding PLEASE let me know!!!




I am looking for any kinda of help. from advice and expirence to training and equipment. nothing goes unread or unappreciated!!!1





Stay Safe!


Marc Hurwitz



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Having lived in LA County for over 40 years I was thinking the same thing as John as to why in big money LACO. After reading your reply I am impressed and more impressed because of your age. Good luck I hope all works out.

An organized and well trained group that works in coordination with established authorities can only be an asset in a major populated area. Doing so at no cost to the taxpayers is a plus.
Sorry to say that I have no advice for you. I do however wish you the best of luck with it all.I would also like to add that the fire company that I run with was started by 4 guys with a beat up mini pumper and a dream. One of our founders actually put his house up to purchase the land for the station.Not too many ppl thought they would make it very far. Glad they were wrong.
I don't need to see your overview or anything like that, the questions I posed are general in nature and things that should be considered. Like FETC, I have also seen such posts and groups looking to start up without truly knowing all the aspects that goes into such training and so forth. It is confusing as to why another group would be looking to establish in an area with teams already there. Then if just looking for volunteers, there is a serious time committment just to receive initial training...40 hour rope ops, 40 hour rope tech, same with confined space, trench, structural collapse, concrete and steel... there is a ton of training involved and tough for someone in a regular 9-5 type of job to really commit, then there is the issue with maintaining those skills. Fine if your serious and good luck in your endeavor, but that is just some stuff you will be facing and this is reality.
I am completely appalled!!! I cannot believe that so many have had something negative to say about your BIG dreams and your even BIGGER goals.

On the contrary, I do not see such negative remarks as you mention here. As I stated in my reply, there are some real world factors that need to be looked into and there is a big committment for those who want to be members of such a team as well. It is not negativity as you state, but a reality.

Despite big dreams and big goals and so forth, the world is not rainbows and teddy bears either and to just blindly support because of someone's passion without asking questions or making them aware of the reality of the situation is not a negative aspect. As I mentioned, I have seen similar inquiries in the past about starting up such a group, seemily after a high profile event such as Oklahoma City, 9-11, and now most recently Haiti and Chile.

The idea is fine, but the reality of such a thing is much more different, there is a big cost for equipment, for training and so forth, not to mention the huge time committment for the members to maintain proficiency. This stuff is not something you can learn once and touch on annually and expect things to go right when actually used if you have not trained. As it is, there are numerous threads about volunteer FF's having difficulty making training for just general firefighting stuff, not to mention the time committment it takes for something like USAR. Each aspect of training is basically 40 hours for rope (ops and tech), confined space(ops and tech), trench, collapse(ops and tech) you are looking at about 280 hours. Then most of the training interacts and you need some before others, like you can't just do confined space without doing ropes. Finding time and a place for such instruction varies and the cost of bringing people in and the several weeks of training can be a huge undertaking.

Can this stuff work? Sure, but it is a huge committment and a big cost involved. If you want to take my post as a negative thing, fine and dandy, but I'm looking at things in a realistic way and also why questioning the purpose of starting another such team when there are already established teams. This is something in which the govt may also look at when grant money is applied for......dreams and aspirations aside, does it make fiscal sense to send grant money for a volunteer team looking to establish in an area with already established teams....and FEMA teams at that? There are plenty of depts out there struggling just to maintain outdated non NFPA compliant gear, there are places looking for training money for firefighters and so forth. A grant alone really isn't going to cover the costs involved and there is a big time commitment to be made, that is the reality here and sometimes reality is harsh.
John hits the nail on the head with this one. Also, earlier you mentioned mutual aid agreements with the local FD's and USAR's, but what is the reality of such agreements. In times when assistance is needed, wouldn't the OIC call for another paid crew so that his IAFF Brothers can collect some O.T.? Maybe as a first step instead, you could consider getting support to start an Explorer Post, Venture Crew, or just an Auxilary Support Unit to the existing teams in the area. Then with enough training and knowledge, branch out to a seperated Not for Profit Organization. Just my views...

NOTE: After a proofread, I am in no way bashing the IAFF or Career FF's. I work in a Union and understand how these types of things flow.
I feel that you need to establish a crystal clear reason for this new organization to exist. You need to show that there is a void that your teams can fill. If brownouts and budget cuts have left area SAR capabilities significantly reduced, then you need to prove that that is the case. You must then demonstrate that your organization can fill the gap.
Personally, there is nothing I hate more than multiple agencies performing the same tasks. It always adds new levels of complication that simply doesn’t need to exist, especially in emergency environments. This view is shared by many others and will be one of the biggest hurdles for you to overcome, so be prepared. Not trying to discourage you with this, just want to make sure you give this aspect your full attention.

I have a moderate level of experience in search and rescue from my time with the SES (State Emergency Service) in Victoria Australia. In Victoria, SAR for the entire state is the responsibility of the police force, VicPol. Unlike the US with thousands of different police departments, the state of Victoria has one unified police force. Through the 1980's and 1990's, the demand for VicPol search and rescue began to increase beyond their capabilites and they started to call upon the 100% volunteer SES to help out, mostly for the manpower and equipment they could provide at short notice. The SES did not seriously look at their SAR capacity until after 2000, and only after VicPol started having issues with SES performance in the field. At this time VicPol also started using the Federation of Walking Clubs recreational club search teams to assist in wilderness searches. Theses teams initially proved extremely valuable because they were totally self sufficient and very experience in hiking and cross country navigation, however since they were not accredited, formally trained or operating within an emergency service structure, they sometimes became more trouble than they were worth from a logistical standpoint. For VicPol, managing a SAR event using three separate agencies became unnecessarily complicated at times, and since the SES drastically improved their level of service, the walking clubs were used less frequently and as I understand it now, mostly just for extended searches lasting for days and days at a time.
My point here is that the SES and the Federation teams were successful at ‘getting a foot in the door’ because a need existed for their services. If you want your new team to be successful, make sure you have a solid reason for being, and jump through hoops to make sure you are fully interoperable with those already doing it.
Good luck

 I agree with mark about starting another USAR team. Yes there are teams already established but with the emergencies and disasters happing so frequent and budget cut in our already established departments they are getting spread thin. So if Marc can get volunteers to join him then I don't think it is redundant do you? I know where I live there is not enough help and the budget has been slashed so bad that the response time to an incident is far too long. And out of the county it is even longer. So more volunteer groups are the best thing we can have.


Please update everyone on your project's success (we hope it is).

What hoops have you jumped through these last two years and are you up and running?

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