Search and Rescue Dogs Australia Inc (SARDA inc) is a volunteer-based- non profit organisation that provides specially trained search and rescue dogs for Australian Emergency Services to assist in locating missing persons. As a Search and Rescue team, SARDA members are a dedicated group of experienced dog handlers who spend considerable time each week training their dogs in a diverse range of emergency situations and search terrains. As dog handlers, they also engage in training in emergency procedures and the use of emergency equipment, survival and navigational skills, advanced search and rescue dog handling methods and personal fitness.
All SARDA members believe strongly in the community service they provide. Team members are volunteers and assume most of the costs related to training, equipment, maintenance and upkeep for themselves and their dogs. SARDA receives no government support and the team relies heavily on fund-raising activities and the generosity of individuals, private industry and the community as a whole.
SARDA's primary goal is to help save lives. To meet this goal, SARDA's objectives are:
- To provide specially trained dogs, handlers and support personnel for the search and rescue of missing persons;
- To provide SAR dog services to Australian Emergency Services, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, at no cost to requesting organisations or the communities we serve;
- To provide training and education for SARDA dogs and members to develop and improve those capabilities that will ensure competent and capable SAR dog teams and operations; and
- To further the public knowledge, interest and use of search and rescue trained dogs.
Search Dogs may be employed in a wide range of emergency situations around Australia, including:
- Wilderness/open country search - to locate people who become lost in the bush or country regions, including bush walkers, climbers and vulnerable people missing from home, such as children, elderly people , mentally disabled people and potential suicide victims;
- Urban/Disaster search - to locate victims who are lost or trapped as a result of explosions, building or natural disasters (eg. earthquake, flooding, landslides);
The SARDA team is available for call-out to any of these emergency situations, on a 24 hour basis, 365 days of the year.
NOTE: Emergency requests for searches must be initiated by law-enforcement agencies.
To develop and maintain an effective SAR dog team, members engage in many hundreds of hours training, for themselves and their dogs, in a variety of emergency and search activities and situations. Although the basic search method used by the dog(ie. location of human scent and indication of the source of the scent to the handler) is essentially the same for all situations identified above, specific training is carried out for different conditions. Each situation (urban, wilderness and disaster) has its own skill requirements additional to the common search skills. Dog handlers and most of the support members engage in an average of 6-10 hours of training per week, most weeks of the year. In addition, they attend periodic specialised training workshops (eg. First AID, navigation skills, scent movement) and long weekend training camps throughout the year)
Deploying a SAR dog team to assist emergency services in locating missing persons is a serious business, as is the training of SAR dog handlers, dogs and support members. Many hundreds of hours of training in often inhospitable and dangerous conditions are required to make, and maintain an operational SAR dog team. In the process, many sacrifices are made by all members of the team, both socially and financially. As a consequence, SARDA strives to retain the natural enjoyment and excitement that can come from working with dogs, from camping in the Victorian wilderness and from searching as a group in unfamiliar territories. This together with the satisfaction that comes from the prospect of finding a missing person and or saving a human life, makes up for the sacrifices and hours of hard work that members endure in their time as a SARDA volunteer.
SARDA members represent a group of highly motivated volunteers who are dedicated to assisting in the search and rescue of missing persons. They are currently 16 SARDA members, 11 active dog teams and 5 support members.
SARDA support members play vital roles within the organisation, engaging in such duties as administration, search and rescue support, fund raising and acting as training bodies for the dogs. The value of the contribution given by the support members cannot be overstated and they are as much a part of the SARDA team as the handlers and the dogs themselves.
Two SARDA Vic dog teams have gained their operational Certification to the new Australian Best Practice Guideline.
SARDA is part of Australi's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) capability. SARDA members regularly train on CFA Usar Taskforce training venues which accommodates CFA, SES and MFB Usar Taskforce requirements. SARDA Queensland regularly trains on the Queensland Fire and Rescue Usar site alongside QFRS Firefighters in 48 hour exercises.
All SARDA members are provided with extensive training. Dog handlers engage in training emergency procedures and the use of emergence equipment, survival ad navigational skills, advanced search and rescue dog handling methods, canine and human First Aid and personal fitness. Where a handler is lacking any required skills, SARDA provides educational training opportunities for the handler, either through external courses or through the transfer of skills internally within the team.
SARDA support members are able to engage in most aspects of training that is provided to dog handlers, on the basis that they may decide to work as a dog handler in the future. As support members play an important role in an actual search operation.