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Fundamentals of Search and Rescue

Author(s): National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR)
  • ISBN-13: 9780763748074
  • ISBN-10:0763748072
  • Paperback    341 pages      © 2005
Price: $101.95 US List
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Fundamentals of Search and Rescue (FUNSAR) is the only resource that covers Search and Rescue Technician (SARTECH) III & II requirements.

Providing an overview of all aspects of search and rescue procedures and equipment, FUNSAR teaches the essential techniques employed by nearly all search and rescue personnel.  FUNSAR offers an in-depth and practical approach to search and rescue and is recommended for all emergency responders.  Ideal for both paid and unpaid professionals, this resource is recommended for any person who functions on search and rescue missions as a field searcher.  FUNSAR offers an excellent mix of photos and illustrations, pullout boxes, key terms, survival methods, and numerous forms and checklists.

FUNSAR is recommended for any person who functions on search and rescue missions as a field searcher. Ideal for professionals and volunteers alike, this text offers:

  • An excellent mix of photos and illustrations depicting the technical aspects of the SAR experience.
  • Pullout boxes, called "SAR tips", to emphasize key points.
  • Important Search and Rescue terms highlighted throughout the text.
  • Several rescue and suvival methods illustrated in each chapter with photos showing examples of the equipment and clothing discussed.
  • Appendix including the SAR Track ID Form, Briefing and Debriefing Checklists, the Missing Person Questionnaire, the SAR Equipment List, selected ICS Forms, and the complete ICS Glossary.

The SARTECH II written exams includes questions on the following topics, all covered in the Fundamentals of Search and Rescue text:

  • Incident Command System
  • Basic Survival
  • SAR Clothing
  • Improvising
  • Environmental Hazards and First Aid
  • SAR Ready Pack
  • Personal Equipment
  • Travel Skills
  • Land Navigation & Orienteering
  • SAR Resources
  • Search Philosophy
  • Search Tactics
  • Handling Evidence
  • Clue Consciousness
  • Search Operations
  • Tracking
  • Ropes & Rescue Equipment
  • Legal Aspects for the Searcher

The candidate's performance of SAR skills is evaluated at six practical exam stations involving:

  • Station #1: Land Navigation: Use of topographic maps and compass. Candidates complete a course over terrain commonly encountered in the operations area in a specified time frame, not to exceed 600 meters.
  • Station #2: Tracking: Candidates identify and mark a footprint track left by the evaluator and follow the track to its end.
  • Station #3: 24-hour Pack: Candidates demonstrate the ability to possess and pack the required SAR equipment and supplies efficiently.
  • Station #4: Rope Skills: Candidates demonstrate the ability to tie four basic knots and a harness with supplied rope and webbing.
  • Station #5: Route Search: Locating and labeling clues in a given area demonstrating the ability to detect 50 % of the clues using a route search tactic.
  • Station #6: Area Search: Locating and labeling clues in a given area demonstrating the ability to detect 50% of the clues using an area search tactic.

Applicable Courses

The SARTECH II level of certification is the intermediate level for SAR personnel. The level is recommended for any person who functions on SAR missions as field searchers.  Persons who obtain this certification are to function within the limits of the certification described in the NASAR standards for SARTECH II.

There are no prerequisites required for a person to challenge the SARTECH II examination. But certification history indicates persons who have had formal SAR training and experience on SAR missions successfully pass the examinations more frequently than others do. The examination consists of a 160 question written test covering the candidate's knowledge of search and rescue. A passing grade is 70 or above.

Table of Contents

Section 1  SAR Overview
 Chapter 1 SAR Overview 
 Chapter 2 SAR Systems
 Chapter 3 SAR Incident Management and Organization
 Chapter 4 Legal Considerations

Section 2  Support Information, Skills and Equipment
 Chapter 5 Physiology and Fitness
 Chapter 6 Survival and Improvisation 
 Chapter 7 Clothing
 Chapter 8 Safety in SAR Environments  
 Chapter 9 The SAR Ready Pack and Personal Equipment 
 Chapter 10 Navigation
 Chapter 11 SAR Resources and Technology
 Chapter 12 Travel Skills: Foot Travel for SAR Personnel
 Chapter 13 Tracking

Section 3  SAR Operations
 Chapter 14 Search:  Background and Related Issues
 Chapter 15 Search Operations
 Chapter 16 Rescue

Section 4  Appendices
 Chapter A1 FEMA search marking systems 
 Chapter A2 Urgency Determination Form 
 Chapter A3 Track ID Form 
 Chapter A4 Briefing and Debriefing Checklists 
 Chapter A5 Missing Person Questionnaire 
 Chapter A6 SAR Tech II equipment list
 Chapter A7 Selected ICS Forms
 Chapter A8 Kinds and Types of Single Resource and Strike Team Standards for SAR Incidents based on NASAR Standards

Section 5 Glossary


National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR)

National Association for Search and Rescue

The National Association for Search and Rescue, Inc., (NASAR) is a not-for-profit membership association dedicated to advancing professional, literary, and scientific knowledge in fields related to search and rescue. NASAR is comprised of thousands of paid and non-paid professionals interested in all aspects of search and rescue - the humanitarian cause of saving lives - throughout the United States and around the world. "...that others may live."

Response to persons in distress has long been an honorable, charitable tradition. The professionals in search and rescue have carried on this tradition of helping others by dedicating time, information, skills, equipment and funding to the relief of suffering. We are actively working toward the development of improved coordination and communications among federal, state, local, and volunteer groups. Our primary goal is to aid in the implementation of a total integrated emergency response, rescue, and recovery system.

  • "Great job on the new Fundamentals of Search and Rescue manual. As a NASAR SARTECH Exam Coordinator, I recently tested several Arkansas State Parks Rangers and Interpreters who used this manual to prepare for the SARTECH II exam. They all did well on the exam and I heard several positive comments about the quality of the new book and how the organization and thoroughness of the materials helped them to prepare for the exam. The collaborative efforts of NASAR and Jones and Bartlett Publishers have produced a high quality manual with up-to-date methods and techniques for Search and Rescue Responders."


    Allen Lawrence

    Arkansas ESAR



    The following appeared in Issue 43 of Technical Rescue magazine:

    "Yet another fine publication from Jones & Bartlett mimicking the style and design we’ve seen in most books in rescue in recent years. This one has quite a pedigree of contributors and reads like a who’s who of  NASAR presenters, though ultimately it’s Don Cooper who’s driven the book home. It is extremely well illustrated throughout with color photos, diagrams and charts. SAR Tip boxes litter the pages with some useful safety and general info.  SAR terms (glossary) are detailed at the end of each chapter.

    This is definitely a Search techniques book despite the term being search and RESCUE. SAR is more the application of a range of disciplines than a discipline in itself but this book hasn’t tried to unsuccessfully duplicate the fine work of technical publications like High Angle Rescue. The opening chapter details the interesting concept of community responding to disasters - a U.S. government program that seeks to give the community the training necessary to make a difference at a disaster without becoming victims themselves.  This is because they’ve identified that in the event of a major disaster the local residents will save far more lives than all statutory rescue agency put together! The second chapter deals with the organizations and resources available for SAR and how the various rescue plans are implemented. Much of this is U.S. oriented, but since FEMA system is widely copied it is applicable worldwide.  On a more local scale Chapter Three looks at a SAR incident with emphasis on Incident Command System(s) or ICS. Be prepared for more TLA’s (three letter abbreviations) than you will be able to remember in this book. It has become a norm these days and this book uses (and explains) hundreds of TLA’s!  Chapter Four looks at more legal and ethical issues than you realized were a problem – excellent pause for thought on everything from negligence and racial abuse to Good Samaritan laws and trespassing. After stupidly brushing past the fitness and physiology chapter, the Survival chapter imparts much information and hints on emergency shelters, fire craft, finding and treating water, signaling and direction-finding. The chapter concludes with personal hygiene and all of these subjects are covered in excellent detail with good diagrams. At 30 pages this, together with Navigation, represents the longest chapter in the book. Clothing is often skimmed over but in this day of technical materials and design in footwear, outer and under-clothing this chapter is a little overdue. It includes discussion of the main brands like Polartec and Thinsulate. Safety issues are mostly environmental detailing with cold-water immersion, hot/cold/ inclement weather and avalanche safety in particular. There are also a few pages on snakes and plants – obviously this is most appropriate to the U.S. The SAR Ready Pack details every component you require for sustained SAR incidents. At a more technical level the Resources and Technology chapter provides good detail on everything from Thermal Imaging cameras and Side Scan Sonar to radio beacons and comms systems. Travel Skills is a little unusual though invaluable and includes ice axe arrest and negotiating a range of terrains. Tracking is self-explanatory and adequately dealt with through far more exhaustive because that is another area that requires an entire book. ‘Search Background and Related Issues’ is a rather cryptic title for an area that is also a book in itself – how to actually search for the missing person. The chapter and the subsequent Search Operations include many peripheral concerns as well as POD (Probability of Detection) and lost person behavior. Crash scenes are uncomfortably frequent occurrence and is dealt with as part of the evidence handling section while grids and specific search patterns cover several pages. Anatomy of Search Incident gives a useful guide to the evolution of a typical rescue from callout to debrief. In the appendix, very detailed Resource Typing sheets (16 in total) are invaluable and a sadly underused facility in many areas of the world outside the U.S. where perceived ‘operational territories’ tends to limit response to a single statutory recourse or sometimes just military responses. These resource sheets cover Canine, Mountain, USAR and Wilderness assets.

    Fundamentals of Search and Rescue is every bit as good as we would expect. It is well illustrated, written in a style that is reasonably formal but concise enough to maintain your attention and interest. A number of more unusual sections provide information we don’t see much in rescue texts, certainly not with any meaningful amount of detail. Don Cooper has helped produce an invaluable reference that will have become a standard text the minute it rolled off the press."


Instructor's Toolkit CD-ROM

ISBN-13: 9780763736309 ISBN-10: 0763736309

Preparing for a FUNSAR course is easy with the resources on this CD-ROM, including:

  • Adaptable PowerPoint Presentations - Provides you with a powerful way to make presentations that are educational and engaging to your students. Slides that can be edited and modified to meet your needs. To save you time, we have incorporated the most important images into the slides to emphasize key points.
  • Lecture Outlines - Provides you with complete, ready-to-use lecture outlines that include all of the topics covered in the chapter.  The lecture outlines can be modified and customized to fit your course.
  • NASAR Exam Questions - Contains multiple-choice and scenario-based questions, with page references to FUNSAR.
  • Image Bank - Provides you with a selection of the most important images found in the text. Use them to incorporate more images into the PowerPoint presentations, make handouts, or enlarge a specific image for discussion.