Over time, the population of people has continued to increase exponentially. Among the many consequences of the influx of people on the surface of the earth is that they continually find themselves in distress or danger. Whether in isolation or in a group, people continue to find themselves in distressing situations or in imminent danger hence a need to be rescued.

Search and rescue is the systematic process of searching for people in distress or in danger and providing them with assistance and support. The field has been evolving from an informal sector that was only constituted in the event of a disaster and quickly disbanded when the situation was solved to dedicated systems that are continually set and ready for any eventuality that may require their services. Search and rescue has become a profession for many people whose sole purpose is to offer rescue and support to victims of distressing situations.

The continued evolution of the sector has seen its diversify and divide itself into several sub-sectors that specify on different situations and terrain. Some of the different classes of search and rescue include:

  • Mountain rescue
  • Ground search and rescue
  • Search and rescue in cities
  • Combat search and rescue on a battlefield
  • Air search and rescue over water

Despite there being such a variety of search and rescue missions, one thing is common to all, airborne search and rescue is necessary for all of them to be effective.

From the first successful airborne rescue mission in 1945 where a civilian helicopter was used to save the lives of 5 crew members of ship, people have continued to invest in the operation. More people continue to undergo training so as to be able to play a part in search and rescue operations.

Airborne search and rescue operations involve the use of planes and helicopters to identify, search and offer support to victims. Airborne search and rescue offers several advantages as it is easy to cover a wide surface over a short period, provides very fast response, and quick delivery of affected people to where they would get support and other necessary services e.g. medical attention.

Due to the seriousness and necessity of the services, it is important for those who wish to be involved in search and rescue operations to be properly trained on how to handle themselves on the ground. It is paramount that they know what to do at every situation as a person’s life may depend on their actions.

In airborne search and rescue operations, there are various tasks that require undertaking and anyone willing to engage in the practice would hardly lack a place. The following are some of the positions that a person willing to engage in airborne search and rescue can join.

Pilot

These are the personnel responsible for flying the planes that are involved in search and rescue operations. They are basically trained to learn how to plan search and rescue operations and to safely and accurately execute the process.

Minimum requirements

  • 18 years old and above
  • Possess a valid pilot license
  • Not less than 150 hours as pilot in command and not less than 50 hours as a single pilot on a single engine plane.
  • Possess a restricted radio operator certificate

Key duties

  • Responsible for the safety of the plane at all times
  • Calculating and managing the weight of the aircraft
  • Acquiring weather information statistics
  • Obtaining active NOTAMs

Navigators

These are personnel that assist the pilots when flying the planes to make sure that they navigate safely through the sky so as to reach the destinations quickly and safely. They may be pilots or not. All navigators are equipped with search and rescue navigation training to ensure they perform as intended.

Minimum requirements

  • 18 years of age or above
  • Possess a private pilot license or have prior aircrew experience
  • 20/20 vision (either natural or corrected)
  • Have good concentration levels
  • Current license validation certificate

Key responsibilities

  • Accurately assisting the pilot to navigate the plane along the assigned search and rescue pattern
  • Developing and determining search patterns
  • Preparation of maps
  • Calculation of time

Spotters

These are basically the ‘eyes’ of the search team in the sky and are required to spot the targets of the search and rescue operation. Their training includes how they should conduct themselves inside small planes, how to identify search clues while inside a moving aircraft.

Minimum requirements

  • Minimum age of 18 years
  • 20/20 vision
  • Excellent concentration ability
  • Ability to direct and guide the pilot towards the spotted target
  • Weight restrictions

Key responsibilities

  • Acquiring and developing target information
  • Learn how to make emergency signs and report sightings

Ground team

These are personnel responsible for responding to urgent signals from a beacon to deliver help to a downed aircraft, hiker or a boat in distress. They are basically trained how to read and interpret maps, use of compasses, bush survival, use of homing and equipment and emergency scene management.

Minimal requirements

  • Willingness and ability to travel through bushes and thickets
  • Possession of a driving license is an advantage
  • Be willing to learn how to perform First Aid procedures

Key responsibilities

  • Advancing towards radio signal
  • Coordinate with search and rescue planes

Support team

People who do not make the cut to be involved in the flying planes or cutting through the bushes may be deployed in the offices. They are responsible for offering support services when required and keeping records of activities.

Webmaster

Are responsible for minting websites and engaging with users. They will maintain the database, ensure that the web is functional and make adjustments to improve performances.

Minimal requirements

  • Tangible experience in the use of WordPress CMS
  • Excellent communication skills

Key responsibilities

  • Post new and engaging content on the website including photos, videos etc.
  • Maintain company database
  • Perform diagnostic operations and maintaining the website in general

Airborne search and rescue has turned out to be a crucial operation in modern times. Continued conflicts around the world lead to more and more distress conditions for victims and increase the need for rescue operations.

For those who have a passion to alienate human suffering have a huge platform to exercise their passion through airborne search and rescue. Although there are some stringent requirements for certain positions e.g. piloting, some positions do not require much specialization and with the correct training they will be on their way to doing what they desire most; help other humans from suffering.

It is clear that there is a role for everyone willing to engage in airborne search and rescue and despite how small a task may seem, it may be the difference between a person living or suffering to death.

 

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