The Case for Credentialing – Answering Your Comments

I hate to break free in the middle of this series like this, but there were some comments made that I wanted to discuss.  Since one is on one post and the other is on another post, I felt the need to tie them together and talk really quickly to the issue.

On June 15, Steve said:

Yes, credentials would help but WHO is the final authority on issuing them? WHO sets the standards? How are you going to avoid the age old paid vs volunteer bias in any credentialing agency?

My quick answer: I am against the bias in the career vs. volunteer.  If you can meet the standard, you can meet the standard.  I think there is plenty of room for volunteers, especially in disaster response.  So some career guy is going to tell me my docs can’t be part of the team because they aren’t career guys somewhere?  And I have said in regard to SC-TF1, where I do have some pull, if one person in a one-station volunteer department down the road wants to be part of our team, we need to let him if he meets our criteria (background check, physical agility, etc.)  As Ray Wilkinson, our past Director once said, “I can teach someone to break rocks, what I can’t teach is desire.”  If someone wants to do the job, and goes through the requirements to meet a position, why should I care if he’s a member of FDNY or of Acme Fire Department?  So Steve, I’m with ya, brother.

On June 16, Kevin said:

I live in a state where there is no agency tasked with certifying or credentialing Search and Rescue dogs. I have seen (many times) where someone will buy lights for their POV and load their pet dog into the truck and call themselves a SAR team! If I didn’t know better, I might think all volunteer SAR teams were like this. However, there are a number of excellent non-governmental SAR teams in my state as well. I myself and a member of a volunteer K9 team.

Kevin goes on to say that they have a volunteer K9 SAR team because there isn’t an existing asset and law enforcement has asked for it.  Well, Kevin, as they say in Australia, “good on ya”.  You have identified a need and you have tried to meet that need.  No one else has that asset and it sounds like you have tried to do a good job of using accepted industry standards to meet the need.  THAT is good stuff.

However, I just went to discuss the concept of “those of us who want to do this right, but there are people with authority screwing things up so we can’t get in”, and realized that the post I wrote for that last week never posted as scheduled!  So that is now on the post schedule and I hope it does discuss some of the feelings I personally have in that regard. 

On June 16th, SAR Volunteer also commented:

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 workmenscomp insurance, align their standards with NIMS Resource Typing, and are working to ensure they meet the proposed credentialing requirements.

And to you too, SAR Vollie, I applaud your efforts.  I think there is a place for the small volunteer K9 teams at the table as well, if they meet a standard.  Let’s take SC-TF1 again for example.  I have said over and over again, if we have people out there who want to do this stuff, let’s get them involved.  But not being a canine guy, I have some difficulty understanding some of the things the canine types are telling me.  So when I get national experts telling me one thing, and some guy with Rover in a pickup truck (or Expedition, as it were) saying his dog can detect live scent, cadavers, lost pets, and get a beer and catch a frisbee, understand that I am skeptical.  And the self-deploying thing is just purely bad in my book, but that’s a whole other issue as well that doesn’t stop with canine SAR teams, and DOES include career guys, departments, and organized teams, etc.  Frankly, if you (SAR Vollie) or anyone else in SC have dogs trained to find LIVE HUMANS in collapsed or damaged buildings, and feel like you can meet a standard, send me an e-mail.  I’d love to hear from you.  But anyone who calls themselves “Urban Search and Rescue” and they are running around doing wilderness searches, well, go back to my box of rocks comment.  Be what you say you are.

Anyway, I hope this illustrates some of the issues considered so far and we’ll get back on track with the next post (which should have published before the last one- go figure).  Please continue with your comments.  I certainly appreciate your perspectives.  Stay safe.

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