The Case for Credentialing

I'm about to launch into a multi-part blog to discuss the merits of credentialing.  Right now I am aware of some opposing arguments to the requirement that disaster response personnel have credentials, particularly when it comes to those who routinely offer their services after a disaster but are not necessarily part of a response entity.

At this time I am dealing with the multiple phone calls for information on a group calling themselves "Urban Search and Rescue", located right here in my own community.  From what I have been able to tell, they were featured on a local television interview the other day and managed to get a request for assistance out there, but failed to provide a working telephone number, as well as having bad links on their webpage.  When people found they could not reach this entity, I'm guessing they "googled" the terms "Hilton Head Island Urban Search Rescue" and believe it or not, that gets a few hits for me and my phone number.

When I say there's some confusion, you bet.  When I tell the bewildered caller that, yes, I'm the Deputy Director of the South Carolina Urban Search and Rescue program and the Vice-Chairman of the State Urban Search and Rescue Alliance, but I have no idea who "USARK9" is or what their credentials are, you can imagine the rest of the conversation.  After all, they have seen their official looking vehicles, I have heard they walk around town in official looking uniforms, and apparently, according to their website and some discussion from the media, they're doing a good job of self-deploying all up and down the coast, but I don't know who they are.  I must be an idiot.

But this isn't a discussion about them; this is a discussion about how when we don't know who you are or how you got here, it makes it a little problematic when we are trying to put you to work, or eventually, trying to feed and shelter you (because invariably, these "assets" don't come with the support they need), a la Hurricanes Andrew, Floyd, Katrina, et al, the World Trade Center, and any number of disasters that happen on a fairly regular basis.  It is a problem when we can't account for you, it is a problem when you can't work within a command structure, and it is a problem when we think you have one capability and it turns out that you do not.  It is also a problem when uninvited guests show up and get hurt, then want compensation.

The blog will discuss my perception of the problem, opposing viewpoints as they have been made know to me, considerations and existing knowledge, and hopefully incite some discussion.  As you may or may not realize, I have a pretty open mind.  So don't be surprised that I agree that there is a need for spontaneous bystander rescue (although it makes me a little uneasy) and I agree that there are genuinely altruistic people and agencies out there who desire to help and have problems fitting into the picture. 

Anyway, as usual, I have a lot going on, but I'll lay out the discussion further and ask you to chime in if you have something you'd like to say, and I'd expect to add the next blog in a day or so.  Rome wasn't built in one blog, after all.


  • Mick says:

    By the way, some of you new to this site might be expecting a daily entry, but I’m nowhere near that regimented. I’ve got plenty to say, but I usually only post when it’s fit to be said out loud. Thanks and be patient (and keep visiting, you never know when the moment will actually strike).

  • Rescue911 says:

    You’re right on. No room for self responders. If one takes a class on responding to disasters, an important objective taught is NOT to do is self respond. Makes you think are these trained in a disaster response or just good ole boys wanting to help. There’s room for both parties in the sand box as long as we all abide by the rules of response. ‘-)

  • SAR Volunteer - Not this team says:

    I totally agree with your points. Please understand this are a handful of small volunteer K9 SAR teams in the state of SC who do NOT self deploy, do NOT work for anyone but the proper state or municipal authorities, train hard, carry their own liability and workmens comp insurance, align their standards with NIMS Resource Typing, and are working to ensure they meet the proposed credentialing requirements. These teams may only be working one on one at the county level right now to ensure they have a solid relationship with the agencies they will support before a call is made and will only deploy through those channels. Most of these calls are not disaster related but for small scale events at the individual person level.

  • Doug Copp says:

    It is disgusting that my name which was so destroyed by a psychotic, twisted pervert,,,aka Thomopson Lang..owner of the Albuquerque Journal ..because I refused to give him an emergency pass,,not because he was wearing women’s clothes..not because of his disgusting behavior but mainly because he was an evil, evil man..and even more so because some wannabee phony pretend rescuers see me as an easy target..get a life..go credential your phony ass.

    My 20 years of selfless volunteering saved the lives of more than 200,000 lives..go see the proof at

    doug copp

  • Doug Copp says:

    Dear Mayor:

    I have not had a reply. Your employee uses his rank in your dept, and has links to your city council from his blog site. As such he is representing that you and your city is supporting his actions to defame me.

    You should know that I was issued Badge # 3119, by the Mayor of NYC Dept of Emergency Management at the personal request of the Capt in charge of the New York City Police Rescue Team ( with whom I worked). Mayers’ insinuation that I was NOT credentialed is a bold face lie..You can see my badge at and watch videos of my searching the subterranean area, under millions of tons of rubble, wearing my badge.

    It is a matter of public record and archive that FEMA refused to search this area stating that it was too dangerous. CNN reported this. Myself and 2 other members of our rescue team became injured here. This place had to be searched..even at the cost of our injuries. We do not leave victims buried alive.

    It is disgusting that your employee who is, also, a member of FEMA organization which was too cowardly to search the area where I became now spreading lies about me.

    Make no mistake that I will go public with TV, newspapers and with the voters of Hilton Head, if I am further annoyed or ‘preyed upon’ in such a despicable manner.
    I demand an aplogy for the lies your employee is speading in the name of your city.

    Doug Copp

    Regarding the link this idiot has linked to I speak of dreams is a gossiping, fat, old woman who like your employee Mayers should be better spending her time than speading the lies of a twisted ‘son of a bitch’ who mt team threw out of the WTC forbehavior which included a member of his gang actually repeatedly punching the corpse of a dead firefighter before fleeing the city. This are the type of people who Mayers continues to spead their lies.

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