Networking with TEXSAR

Today we wrapped up our first of two classes here in Austin, Texas.  Tomorrow, we’ll begin our next class which is the CERT Program Manager class.  Yesterday I introduced you to two students that are in our class representing the Yselta Del Sur Pueblo Tribe.  Today, I’d like to introduce you a few others in our class that helped add to our diversity.

Texas Search and Rescue (TEXSAR)

With my involvement with the Eureka Fire Protection District’s Search and Rescue Team , I was very happy when I learned we had three members of TEXSAR in our class.

TEXSAR is an all-volunteer Search and Rescue team based in Austin, Texas.  Like many teams, they began as a ground search team and have since expanded to be a fully capable, multi-disciplined team that now includes capabilities in Ground Search, Swiftwater Rescue, Technical Rope Rescue, Wildland Fire, and Disaster Response.  Additionally, they have “partnering assets” to provide additional capabilities in the areas of dive and underwater recovery, medical, and K-9.

Greg Pyles is the CEO of TEXSAR and a student in our class, as are two other members of his team, Pam and Don.  Greg shared with me that all members must pass a criminal background check in order to join the team.  Members can not have any felonies on their record.  Additionally, while the team has no certification requirement new members must complete in order to join the team, those wishing to participate in active searches are required to complete all FEMA Incident Command System (ICS) classes (100-800 and the ICS-EOC Interface class).  Additionally, team members must pass the GSAR I course taught by Rescue Training International (RTI) as well as Land SAR I which is an internal course supported by both the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the United States Coast Guard.  Members not having these certifications are restricted to administrative support functions.

TEXSAR is a 501(c)(3) member run, member owned organization.  It receives its funding from membership dues of $75.00 per member per year.  Additionally, because of its not-for-profit statues, the team receives private and philanthropic donations as well as grants.

The team meets on the first and last Tuesday of each month.  In addition to these meetings, members participate in various third party trainings that are made available.  Each year, the team also participates in two large multi-agency exercises.

Deployment requests are issued by the federal government, governor or state government, local law enforcement, or relief organizations (e.g. Red Cross). When deployed, the team works under and abides by the hierarchy and guidelines of the Incident Command System (ICS). If deployed by local law enforcement they act as a function of that department and answer directly to them. Though they don’t perform actual criminal law enforcement duties, they do act as needed in a support role for the department.  On average, the team responds to a missing person callout every other month.  The biggest incident the team has responded to was Hurricane Ike when they were deployed on Day 3 following the hurricane for three straight weeks.

Tomorrow, we’ll be starting our new CERT Program Manager class. About half our students will be new.  Plan on checking back tomorrow to see how we are progressing.

Until then here are some additional pictures from our class today including a picture of a challenge coin given to me from one of my students who works for the Austin Police Department and a Koosh  ball given to me by another student.  The significance of the Koosh ball is I had been looking for one to use as a training prop and couldn’t find one, and this person was so kind to go out of her to get me one.

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3 Responses to Networking with TEXSAR

  1. Greg Pyles says:

    Tim,

    Thanks for the spotlight on Texsar. The energetic and professional men and women of our organization appreciate your comments. We look forward to any opportunities for interactions between your Eureka team and ours!
    Sadly, the challenge coin your received will now have to be re-issued since the number 20 on the relief side has now changed to 21 with the murder of Senior Patrol Officer Padrone.
    It was a pleasure to meet you. You did a great job with the class. Travel safe and best regards.

    In Service to Our Communities,

    Greg Pyles, CEO
    Texsar, Inc.
    http://www.texsar.org
    512-461-9126

  2. Brandon says:

    So many of the skills taught in these classes are assets within Search and Rescue, and our team is very fortunate to have such a great working relationship with CERT. Those from our team who attended this course are truly top-notch, so it doesn’t surprise me that we can always count on CERT members and their level of training.

  3. TEXSAR is very thankful to it’s dedicated members and the opportunity to train and perform with like minded individuals, such as yourself. TEXSAR looks forward to being able to help and support you in any way that we can.

    Shawn Hohnstreiter, Chairman
    Texsar, Inc.
    http://www.texsar.org
    512-663-8758

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