SAR Team Diversity as strength

One of the most interesting things I have noticed about Search and Rescue teams is this; they are made of volunteers who have “regular jobs” — outside of SAR. This means that every SAR volunteer has an expertise in addition to SAR, something they have made a career of.

This means that SAR teams are incredibly diverse.

Of course there are jobs whose skill sets naturally lend themselves to SAR: police, fire, paramedic, nurse, doctor, etc. You could consider these people as extending their main area of expertise to SAR.

And of course I’ll admit having worked for large companies I’ve been impressed with the expertise that individuals have in areas outside of their careers. But for SAR this is different. In a regular job the “external expertise” people have is something they spend the minority of their time doing. In SAR this is reversed.

So, for example, someone who is a Lawyer and a SAR member spend most of their time practising law – they are probably better at being a lawyer than they will ever be at SAR just by virtue of the fact that they don’t spend eight hours a day training for SAR!

As a corollary, consider the people who do spend most of their time training for SAR and think of how good they are at that job compared to you. Kind of makes you jealous?

But back to SAR. When I train SAR members I see them absorbing the information but something happens that I don’t see when I train someone in my own area of expertise. These people relate their training to their already considerable area of knowledge and without fail they come up with some new insight into the issue at hand that I will not have expected. Now this might be trivial, and it might not even be useful, but I find the experience enlightening and it adds to the enjoyment I feel when training SAR members.

Take a look at your team. Consider these people as experts in their fields. Now consider how that expertise relates to Search and Rescue.

As an example, using the law again, a lawyer on our team produced an in-depth review of the Good Samaritan laws for the teams use.

As a Software Developer I regularly offer advice on issues of how technology should be used to enhance SAR.

How can you harness the deep knowledge of your SAR members? Let me know if you have any insights.

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One comment on “SAR Team Diversity as strength
  1. MG says:

    The culture of the team needs be open and accepting to new people, new ideas and new insights if said team is harness the deep knowledge of their members.

    Too often volunteer organizations can suffer from closed minded thinking and the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality. SAR teams are no exception to this fallacy.

    SAR is full of Type A people, but effort should be made to listen to the quieter or more introverted members who are interested in volunteer SAR for a multitude of reasons.

    If SAR teams foster an open and collaborative environment, they would be surprised at the expertise within their members.

    An ER nurse I worked with once said, “I know how to save you from cardiac arrest, but I don’t know how to change the frequency on this radio.”

    Accept the different skill sets within your team and learn from each other. As Micheal suggests, you will be amazed at the skill level around you.

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