How often are the searches and when do they happen?
CALSARA averages about 9-12 searches each year. They can happen at any time of day or night. In general we get more searches in summer than in winter because there are more people using the recreational areas around Calgary.
What kind of searches do we do?
Members are trained for both missing person and evidence searches. Some of the evidence searches are not as urgent and may be scheduled with several days notice. We are a ground search team - we do not do airborne or K9 search, although we may be tasked alongside other teams that may do that.
How long will a search last for?
Searches can be as short as an hour or stretching into several days on occasion. They are split into shifts called "operational periods", usually about 8 hours each. When you are notified about a search you will be told if you need your urban, 24 or 48 hour packs.
What if I'm mega-busy at work and can't make a search?
If you are unable to make it for a search that's no problem, as volunteers we all have personal lives as well. However to remain operational you must the meet minimum participation requirements set by the organization over a 12-month period, including participation in some searches.
When you respond to the callout with your 'GO' or 'NO GO' status you should specify if you can make later Operational Periods.
How do we know when there is a search?
Every member of CALSARA has their cell or home phone registered with our call out system. When you get the call, you then call back to a voicemail system where you will be given the basic details about the search and you must then leave your full name and a 'GO' if you are able to attend.
Do I have to carry my gear with me?
You are expected to carry your cell phone with you all the times when you are available to search. Your packs (urban, 24 hour, 48 hour) should be packed and ready to go. Many of our members keep these in their vehicles for faster response time.
How much does it cost to join?
The joining fee is currently a $300 refundable uniform deposit. If you decide to quit the organization a full or partial return of the fee will be given back upon return of the uniform, depending on the condition.
Are there ongoing costs?
Annual membership dues are currently nil. They have been set at a nominal amount in the past.
Do I need to buy any equipment?
You must provide your own equipment. You will be provided a list of items you will need for your urban, 24 and 48 hour packs. If you are a hiker or outdoors person you may have a good part of the required equipment already. There is a specific type of compass we expect you to use and each member must have their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
How much time will I have to put in?
The single biggest reason people leave any volunteer organization is because they cannot keep up the commitment required. It is vital you understand there is a significant commitment of time and effort expected when you join CALSARA. After your recruit training is over, you are required to do searches, attend monthly committee meetings, take ongoing training and to participate in marketing and fund raising activities.
Where is the training?
Our main training location is at our base (5705 - 23rd Ave SE). Training varies from classroom to outdoor field exercises in varied terrain in and around Calgary.
Do I need to have a vehicle?
While it would be very useful to have a vehicle to get to training and operations, it isn’t mandatory, providing you are able to get transportation to and from events and search locations, occasionally on an urgent basis.
Do I need to have internet access?
Yes. A very large part of our communications is done by email and with our search responder site (D4H).
How fit do I need to be?
Search and Rescue is physically demanding. You will often be required to search in arduous terrain while carrying a heavy pack. If you get puffed walking up a few flights of stairs at work then this is definitely not for you! We don't do any kind of fitness testing or training - it's up to you to stay fit and know your abilities and limits.
What if I've been out drinking and there is a callout?
You must be fit for duty and in full control of your faculties when at training or on a search. If you have been out drinking and there is a callout, you may not attend.
How can I transfer to CALSARA?
If you are currently a member of another ground Search team, and want to transfer to CALSARA, please email our Member Relations Director at email@example.com to discuss your situation and qualifications.
Do we get paid or reimbursed?
There are no paid positions in CALSARA. Under certain circumstances we may be reimbursed for travel expenses to and from the search site.
Are we insured for injury?
Yes. The province insures CALSARA members with WCB coverage when on training or a search tasking. Make sure you sign in when attending official activities to ensure you are covered.
I can't make the interview or one of the training days... can I still join?
No. You absolutely must make your interview and all of the training days scheduled for that particular recruitment period.
I need volunteer experience for my chosen career, can I join CALSARA to get this?
If you join us you are committing to all the responsibilities of being a member. We are a charity for helping find lost people, not a charity for helping your career.
My dog is an excellent tracker - can I do K9 SAR with her?
We are not a canine search team. We do however often train with members of the RCMP - CSDA www.canadiansearchdogs.com. You should contact them if you want to only do K9 SAR.
What do I need to bring to the Recruitment Information Night (Open House)?
Only questions, a notebook & perhaps a warm coat - it can get a little chilly in our vehicle bay.
I live outside of Calgary, is that a problem?
Some of our current members live outside of Calgary itself, as far away as Airdrie, Balzac, Olds, and Bragg Creek. As long as you are okay with the many events you will need to come into Calgary for, then there is no problem. The vast majority of all our meetings, training and special events are in Calgary - many of these are at our base in the South East. Your response time to searches is also something to think about.
If you live further away, such as Red Deer, Canmore or Cochrane, you may be better served to join a team closer to you. We can also recommend Foothills SAR, Cochrane SAR and Badlands SAR teams in our area.
My first aid certificate has expired - when must I have it renewed by?
You need to have it for the first day of training. If your certificate is currently expired please book a standard (16 hour) first aid / CPR Level C with AED certification course immediately through a provider.
Which type of first aid certificate is it that I need?
At minimum you need Standard First Aid/CPR Level C with AED certification, which is a 16 hour course that covers both adult and child CPR, and it must have been provided through a facility accredited by St. Johns Ambulance or the Red Cross. If you've lost your certificate, please contact your training provider who may be able to replace it.
If you have any further questions about joining, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.