Alpha Search and Recovery requires contact from law enforcement or other acting agency to respond to all incidents. To request any of the following services please contact us here.
Alpha Search + Recovery members receive training in all areas involved in effective and cooperative search and rescue teams. Team members are trained in Incident Command System, which is part of the National Incident Management System used by FEMA and most branches of the Federal Government. Having members trained in ICS and NIMS allows the team to efficiently partner with other government agencies for searches and disaster relief. Team members are also trained at minimum, to become a SARTech II as outlined by the National Association of Search And Rescue.
Members of Alpha Search + Recovery maintain a constant knowledge of the following core skills. All training is provided to Alpha Search + Recovery members and candidates free of charge, with reimbursement opportunities for classes and additional certifications completed outside of normal team training. Additionally, Alpha Search + Recovery hosts various SAR related courses and certifications through the year that are open to the general public.
Alpha Search + Recovery operates under the Incident Command System as outlined by FEMA and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). All members are expected to understand the ICS system and how to utilize it during training and search operations.
Team members are expected to know and utilize different canine search techniques while acting as a handler as well as a flanker for other canine handlers. Combining how the canine works with knowledge of scent theory is the best way to locate the missing person in a search area.
Learning how to best utilize both the handheld compass and GPS units in conjunction with a map are imperative for all team members. Sometimes technology fails and therefore, having basic map reading skills can be the difference in becoming another mission person or making it back to the Incident Command.
Communication skills are key in communicating position, clues, and other significant information. Therefore, all team members are taught proper radio protocols and terminology, adhering to the guidelines set forth by NIMS.
The ability to identify clues during search operations is necessary to locating the missing person and any clues they may have left behind. Members are taught to locate a variety of clues in different search scenarios to help train this skill.
It is essential for all team members to be able to identify the signs of a crime scene. Understanding what to look for may protect evidence and help law enforcement with their investigation.
Being track aware is important for all team members to help facilitate finding the missing person. Alpha Search + Recovery occasionally brings in outside instructors to teach more advanced man-tracking skills.
While most of Alpha Search + Recovery search operations are considered urban. Basic survival techniques such as how to build an emergency shelter and start a fire are needed when emergencies happen.
Alpha Search + Recovery members are expected to have a current Wilderness First Aid certification and CPR from reputable agencies such as NASAR and the American Red Cross.
For Ground Searchers and Canine Handlers
Alpha Search + Recovery trains multiple times a week as a team at various locations around the greater Houston areas. Training is provided free of charge to team members. We do not have a set attendance requirement, however, we use task books to track each individual’s training. These task books outline basic skills that each searcher should have and all skills can be taught during training, so no prior experience is needed. Some skills expire quarterly, and some yearly. As skills expire, you will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in the task at a training session to maintain the qualification and therefore maintain your mission deployable status.
For Canines and Handlers
Each handler trains their own canine with the guidance of the team. Team members help to train and guide other handlers in the proper techniques and scent theories of search dogs. Training is provided free of charge to team members and canines. These are the three general types of search dogs used by Alpha Search + Recovery.
AREA SEARCH / AIR SCENT
Area Search, sometimes called air scent dogs are used to locate any person in a given area. These dogs are trained to work off leash to locate any person that is not with the search team. Many times these dogs work somewhat independently and report back to the handler when a subject is located. Area search dogs work off lead and will either bark and hold when they find the missing person or return to the handler and re-find the person, taking the handler to their location. Area search dogs are useful for covering large amounts of ground with old or no known trails left behind by a person and are also used during disasters to locate victims.
Trailing Canines are used to find a specific person. These canines use a scent article taken or left by the subject and follow the trail left by the subject. They generally are not tracking dogs, meaning they may not track the subject step for step, instead they use a combination of air and ground scenting to locate the subject. Trailing dogs work on leash and are typically associated with bloodhounds, but many other dogs are capable and great at trailing. Trailing dogs are most effective in finding specific subjects with a known last location and are effective in both wilderness and urban areas.
HUMAN REMAINS DETECTION
Human Remains Detection (HRD) canines are those that are trained to locate the presence of human remains – decomposition odor. The decomposition odor trained by the handler team may range from the very early stages of decomposition odor to odor as old as a clandestine grave. HRD Canines work off lead and have various ways of indicating for the presence of human remains such as a sit, down, or a bark. These canines are generally partnered up with law enforcement for a variety of cases where a deceased individual needs to be located. Human remains detection dogs are best utilized in wilderness, water, and disaster situations when recovery is needed.
Breeds and qualities of our search dogs
The breed of search dogs used by Alpha Search and Recovery depends on handler preference and drive of the dog. Typical breeds used are working breeds, such as German Shepherd Dogs, Labradors, Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dobermans, and Golden Retrievers. However many breeds (and mixed breeds) can excel in search and rescue. The important thing is that the dog has the desire to work and the qualities of a good search dog.
Temperament – non-aggressive, environmentally sound, not nervous.
Drive – prey and hunt drives are needed. The dog will search out toys (or food), will be focused and not distracted.
Physical Capability – good physique and age, no breathing difficulties, physically capable to work for hours.