Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) about MDI SAR

What is MDI Search and Rescue and what does the team do?

MDI SAR is an all volunteer, nonprofit organization that assists the Maine Warden Service, National Park Service, and local authorities with searches and rescues of lost or stranded people. The MDI SAR team focuses on search and rescue operations on or near Mount Desert Island. Occasionally the team is called on to send members to other parts of the state to assist in search and rescue operations.

What kinds of people join MDI SAR?

Search and Rescue attracts people from all walks of life who enjoy being outdoors and who want to volunteer their time and energy to help others. Previous training in search and rescue is not required.

How can I become a member?

To join MDI SAR you need only pay the team’s membership dues (currently $10 per year), fill out a questionnaire about your experience and interest in SAR related activities, and begin attending meetings and training sessions regularly. Members must be at least 15 years old.

Upon joining MDI SAR, you will receive a membership folder containing the following: an MDI SAR dashboard identification card (for use on a mission), current membership list, current list of officers, current training schedule, information about legal aspects of SAR, information about the potential risks of various blood borne pathogens (especially hepatitis and HIV), a list of items recommended for a personal “ready pack,” and information about key training areas for SAR.

The first six months of membership in MDI SAR is a probationary period. During this time you will be expected to attend trainings and meetings and to work on the skills needed to become an effective team member. Following the probationary period the Board of Directors will evaluate your status and you will be classified as an Associate, Supporting, or Operational member. The roles of these different classes of membership are outlined in the MDI SAR By-laws. Only members classified as Operational are called on for missions.

What skills do I need to be a member?

Previous training in search and rescue is not required. The key to becoming an Operational member in MDI SAR is regular attendance at meetings and trainings. Even those with previous experience in search and rescue or emergency response need to attend team trainings on a regular basis. Training as a team builds team cohesion and ensures that we work together effectively in emergency situations.

What special equipment will I need to join?

MDI SAR will provide technical equipment for use on search and rescue missions. Each member is responsible for assembling a personal “ready pack” to use when called to a mission. Items in a ready pack are primarily for the safety and comfort of the individual rescuer. A list of equipment recommended for a personal ready pack will be provided by MDI SAR, however, we recommend that new members NOT purchase a lot of new equipment until they are certain that Search and Rescue is for them.

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How often does MDI SAR meet and train?

MDI SAR meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at the MDI Workshop on Route 3 near the head of the island. The meetings start promptly at 7:00 pm. The meetings are called to order by the team president who subsequently calls on the other officers and committee representatives to report. The meetings generally last about an hour and are followed by a short training session. Discussions at the meetings focus on searches/rescues in the past month as well as training sessions and other important information. MDI SAR by-laws require that members attend more than 2/3 of the scheduled monthly meetings unless excused by the team president.

Training sessions are held several times each month. Training topics range from basic to advanced levels in technical rescue, map and compass use, search techniques, basic first aid, CPR, and many other areas. All training sessions focus on the correct use of equipment and stress the safety of both patient and rescuer. Attending trainings is a critical element in helping team members to get to know one another and to establish and maintain team coherence. The MDI SAR by-laws require that members attend more than 2/3 of the scheduled training sessions each year, unless excused by the team’s President or training session instructor.

How will I know when a search or rescue mission is underway?

When an agency such as Acadia National Park or the Maine Warden Service requests MDI SAR’s assistance, our dispatchers will call all Operational members (and new members when appropriate) to find out if they are available to respond. SAR members able to respond to the emergency will be given information regarding the incident, instructed as to the check in location, and may be asked to pick up equipment or other resources needed for the mission.

I collect patches. Can I purchase an MDI SAR patch?

We will send collectors an MDI SAR patch for a donation of $10 providing that we have enough on hand to supply our active team members. Please inquire about availability of the patch before sending your donation.

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