TEXSAR is proud to announce that twelve of our members recently completed Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced SAR Tracking classes taught by world-renowned tracker and trainer Fernando Moreira of Professional Trackers. These courses, subsidized and scheduled by TEXSAR and TMAR, included close to 40 participants from TEXSAR, Austin Police SAR, Travis County Search & Rescue, and TMAR. The 9 days of training consisted of classroom and field work designed to teach the fundamental skills of tracking including:
General tracker awareness – use of all senses
Tracking terminology and team roles
Identifying types of sign
Guidelines for recording tracking hours in a log book
Measuring and documenting the track
Tracking on various terrains and ground covers
Backtracking for clues
TEXSAR would like to thank Fernando for bringing these courses to Austin and sharing his amazing expertise with our team!
On April 18-20, 2013, search and rescue instructors from TEXSAR provided training for our partners in the Texas State Guard Maritime Regiment (TMAR). The class this year had 65 members and included two full days of classroom and practical training followed by a night operations exercise on the evening of Friday the 19th and a full-scale exercise on Saturday the 20th. On Sunday, TEXSAR members were recognized by the Commanding General, Brigadier General Robert Bodisch, for TEXSAR contributions to the Unit.
Field exercise Ops briefing
TMAR is a TEXSAR deployment partner and regularly provides resources for searches and exercises around the state. TMAR members train and work with TEXSAR members each year at Camp Swift to learn new skills and practice existing ones. They are truly the model for “TEXANS HELPING TEXANS!”
TEXSAR held training at Russel Park on Lake Georgetown over the weekend. The team held exercises covering Search and Rescue elements including navigation, grid searches, clue detection, patient packaging and extraction, communications, water rescue, and Incident Command.
On June 12 two of our TEXSAR members graduated as Master Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Instructors. This will allow TEXSAR to provide training to new CERT Instructors throughout Texas for both Adult and Teen CERT programs. Mackenzie Kelly and Greg Pyles were two of only nine CERT Instructors from across the State selected to take this training. They were the only graduates from the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) Region.
The training was provided by CAPCOG, North Central Texas Council of Governments and Texas Department of Emergency Management. The training venue and support were provided by the Austin/Travis County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department. TEXSAR is proud to support, develop and foster the CERT program in Texas as a way to help our communities and first responder agencies increase resiliency and initial action effectiveness during incidents and disasters.
This weekend, TEXSAR members Shawn Hohnstreiter and John Michael Gibbs completed the final processes in gaining apprentice instructor status for vertical rope rescue and flood and swiftwater rescue. The new instructors join TEXSAR member and instructor Mark Baumann as the training cadre for TEXSAR’s vertical rescue team and flood and swiftwater rescue team.
Regarding the achievement, Instructor Hohnstreiter said, “This represents the growth of our search and rescue team and our commitment to the community. We can be sure our technical rescue teams have the highest level of training and the greatest abilities to rescue those in need.”
On Saturday morning, May 19th, TEXSAR team members headed to New Braunfels to participate in a training “play day” with Wesley Meyers of Rescue Training International (RTI). The morning started at a heavily canopied canyon preserve where TEXSAR members, along with members from TMAR and first responders from across Texas, were provided with an overview of Land Search and Rescue Concepts and Lost Person Behavior Patterns. Participants then practiced and refined their line search and echo location skills. Next was basic rappelling that offered enough time for beginners to become comfortable with the seat harness and with locking off and then releasing the rope from the rappel device to ascend. Others, including a few beginners, had fun with inverted rappel techniques. It was then off to the Guadalupe River for demonstrations and practical exercises with throw bags, survival swim, low water crossing and self defense techniques.
Four of our members completed the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train the Trainer course this week held by the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and FEMA. This new training capability allows TEXSAR to assist rural jurisdictions and volunteer fire departments as well as “Teen Cert” programs in area high schools to create, train and maintain CERT programs that will provide them with “force multipliers” to respond to large incidents and assist with other responsibilities. TEXSAR will work with various entities, including regional councils of governments and TDEM, to deliver this training and CERT program management.
TEXSAR has a new “Home” for meetings and training! The Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) has graciously invited us to hold our meetings in the AFA Union Hall located at 7537 Cameron Road, Austin, Texas 78752. We will adjust our meeting schedule to not conflict with their meetings and are very much looking forward to having the use of this great facility!