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Ground Search And Rescue

Training Overview

As outlined by the National Emergency Services Curriculum Project, NESA follows what is known as a task-based training program. This section provides a general idea of what this program means for each student.

The Task Guide

NESA uses the Ground and Urban Direction Finding Team Task Manual (“Task Guide “) as its primary tool. This is a textbook of sorts, containing nearly all of the information an individual needs to acquire to become GTM-3, -2, -1, GTL or UDF qualified. The Task Guide is divided into numbered and lettered tasks that must be passed in order to achieve the desired rating. There are three categories of tasks: Operations (marked by an O at the beginning of the task designation), Planning (marked by a P) and Logistics (marked by an L). Tasks are grouped together by relevance, not by the rating that requires them. For instance, tasks O-0001 through O-0010 all relate to individual and team equipment, but not all of these tasks must be passed to achieve the GTM-2 rating. The task guide also contains the criteria for attaining each level of Ground Team rating.

Task Format and Testing

Each task in the guide spells out three things: the objectives of that task, what the student needs to know to pass, and the task evaluation criteria (how the evaluator is to test the student). This means that participants are given a study guide with the test questions and answers already in it. For example, the objective of Task O-0002, Conduct Individual Refit, is for the student to learn, then correctly identify and explain the steps that must be taken to prepare for the next sortie or mission. The task outlines and explains these steps, then concludes with instructions to the evaluator. All tasks follow this format.

There are two types of tasks: knowledge-based tasks, which we call “K’s” and tasks that are evaluated by demonstration/performance method (“practical tasks”). Knowledge-based tasks (such as task O-0002), require that the student verbally show mastery of the information covered by the task. Practical tasks (like task O-0001), require that the student either demonstrate a skill or the practical application of the covered information. This means that any “downtime” students encounter should be devoted to studying and testing for their assigned knowledge-based tasks. Participants will be briefed as to whom they may go to for testing during the activity. It is important to note that responsibility for getting many tasks signed off is in the hands of the participant, not the staff! It is each student’s responsibility to pass the tasks.

Sortie Based Training

Training evolutions are designed around sorties to the greatest extent possible, testing and evaluating different combinations of skills simultaneously. We find this affords more realistic training and allows practical tasks to be evaluated more efficiently.

NESA Track Breakdown

NESA ground operations are separated into three different tracks or schools. Participants are organized into separate tracks at the beginning of the week. The track that a participant is placed in is based upon their rating, experience, and age. These tracks correspond to the different levels of Ground Team member that can be achieved. Please note that all levels require that an individual complete General Emergency Services training.

Basic GSAR

The Basic course covers all tasks necessary to become GTM-3 qualified. This track is for younger participants or those who are new to ground operations. Skills taught include land navigation, electronic direction finding, basic survival and field-craft, basic radio techniques, and first aid/CPR. Basic course students are organized into teams that are led by a GSAR staff member.

Advanced GSAR

The Advanced track covers all tasks required to become GTM-2, GTM-1, and UDF-qualified, and is designed for more experienced or older participants. Most Advanced students are in their second year or second week (if you attend both sessions) of NESA. Topics of instruction in Advanced include more complex search techniques and introductory leadership tasks with respect to ground operations.  An individual must be rated at least GTM-3 to participate in the Advanced Course.

Team Leader Course

The Team Leader course prepares participants for the responsibilities of being a Ground Team Leader. Consequently, the Team Leader course has the most experienced and oldest students (Team Leaders must be at least 18 years old to begin training in this specialty per CAP regulations). Topics include leadership and administrative duties of Team Leaders, as well as more advanced search theories, techniques, and map skills. A Team Leader candidate must be a senior member or a cadet at least 18 years of age. The staff at the National Emergency Services Academy recommend that students refrain from taking this course in the week immediately after becoming GTM-3 qualified, and instead gain experience at their home units as a Ground Team Member before continuing onto more advanced training. Attendance at the Team Leader course and completion of all tasks does not always guarantee certification. At times, a student will need more experience than can be provided in a one-week intensive course. These students will be given credit for their task completions but will need to spend additional time working with qualified trainers in their state to gain more experience prior to certification.

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