SARstories News is our blog for all things Search & Rescue: interesting mission reports and articles, featured SAR teams and new items on the website, upcoming conferences, gear reviews, and anything else that piques our interest and we hope will pique yours.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fraudulent Organization Takes Over SAR Site

I recently received an email from a former trainer from a now-defunct Ohio K9 team, who'd noticed a link to their website on my SARStories K9 Team Directory.  She wrote,

"I just wanted to inform you that Ohio K9 Search Team officially chose to cease operations in 2008. ... The web page to which you are linked is a fraudulent site sponsored by some Russian group.  We discovered that, after we closed our website, this Russian group took it over and is fraudulently collecting money by using our name.  ...  We former K9 team members have contacted the Russian group and asked them to stop using our name and our photographs, but since the [Ohio] team no longer officially exists, there is nothing we can do about it."

The former team member went on to say that they reported this fraud to the Better Business Bureau, various police agencies, and the Ohio Attorney General's office, but they were told there is nothing anyone can do to make this Russian organization stop using their name or photographs.

She explained, "Apparently, there are organizations that search for domain names that are not being renewed and they take over the websites.  We notified the internet server holding the domain name that we would not be renewing, but our photographs and other information did not get deleted on one of our websites.  So, the fraud-based organization took over the site and added a link for people to donate money. ... When we existed, our team was never linked with any person or group from another country.  We also never collected money over the internet.  Unfortunately, since the rogue group paid for our domain name, they can do whatever they want with it, and we have no control or say in the matter."

There is also concern about this fraudulent group meeting with potential volunteers.  A contact from a local park called to ask if the K9 team was supposed to be training there.  Apparently, a woman sent an email to the web site, inquiring about the group, and she was invited to a training session.  When she arrived, the only vehicle around was an old van with two "suspicious-looking men" inside.  Concerned, the woman then went to the park office.

The former team member tells me the group that has taken over the website has ignored attempts to contact them.

What do you think about this situation? It certainly seems to me that something should be able to be done about this.

See the website--"the Official Ohio K9 Search Team, Inc."--at  Note the comment about Russian organizations on the bottom of the first page, in very small, gray print.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Featured Site: Search and Rescue Knowledge Exchange

I recently started participating on a site developed by Ian "Splash" Turner, a member of S.A.R.A.I.D. (Search And Rescue Assistance In Disasters), a British organization "dedicated to trying to save the lives of innocent victims of disaster, as well as relieving human suffering around the world regardless of color, creed, religion and political persuasion." (Members of S.A.R.A.I.D. have been deployed to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. You can read their updates on their blog, S.A.R.A.I.D. News, and via their posts on Twitter.)

Ian's website, Search and Rescue Knowledge Exchange, is a place for anyone, whether involved with SAR or not, to ask SAR-related questions and, if able, to provide answers to those questions. As the FAQ says, "No question is too trivial or too 'newbie.'" Questions may also pertain to gear and book reviews and backcountry skills.

Some of the recent questions and topics have included:
  • How do you get involved with Search and Rescue?
  • How to deal with the problems of timing and team member attendance at a debrief following a mission
  • Filtering water in the outdoors
  • What is the best way to manage team training records?
  • The best way to sleep rough
  • What is the right amount of medical training for a SAR participant?
Visit Search & Rescue Knowledge Exchange to browse questions and answers and jump in if you'd like. You can even ask and answer your own question, and multiple answers are permitted and encouraged for each question. Answers may include links to outside sources and/or to other Q&A threads on the site.

You don't have to register to participate--to ask and answer--but there are additional features available to those who do register with an OpenID account.


And here are some recent SAR articles...

Wayward Berthoud Pass beacon a problem for search and rescue teams: "A wilderness rescue device designed as a "just in case" safety lifeline has developed into a recurrent nuisance. ... A string of eight false alarms in the past month has renewed debate over the controversial personal locator beacons (PLBs) and leaves local rescue experts frustrated over a lack of backcountry education in the technological era."

UK Search and Rescue Teams Saving Lives in Haiti
: "Search and Rescue teams from the UK are among the first to travel to the devastated town of Leogane to continue their search for survivors of the Haiti earthquake."

FDNY-NYPD team in amazing three-hour rescue of man trapped under layers of concrete: "It took three hours to cut through the rebar and cement blocks and dig a narrow crawlspace into the pile of rubble where the apartment building once stood."

No Way Up Or Down: "Documents describing last summer's massive search [in Grand Canyon] for Bryce Gillies show he was on the brink of Thunder River that may have been just out of sight when he returned to the next drainage, where he went down a series of steep pour-offs."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Some Interesting SAR Articles

For those of you on the SAR-L email list and/or the Search & Rescue Discussion Group on LinkedIn, you may already have seen most or all of these. But here are some articles from the world of SAR I've read lately that I found interesting:

Spot + GPS = new device introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show: (pictured here) "Unlike the traditional Spot device, the Earthmate PN-60W will allow the user to transmit custom messages, which can be sent to your emergency contacts as well as your Twitter and Facebook friends." (And Search & Rescue)

Police Train Vultures To Find Human Remains: "German police are testing the use of vultures to seek out human corpses in a unique project aimed at dramatically speeding up criminal investigations."

GPS Leads 3 Parties Astray in Oregon: "In a holiday hurry, Jeramie Griffin piled his family into the car and asked his new GPS for the quickest way from his home in the Willamette Valley across the Cascade Range."

Editorial: Personal Responsibility Seems Missing Among Hunters Stranded By Storm: "How do you prevent people from putting themselves in so much danger of death or injury that someone else has to come rescue them? Should they be charged for the rescue? Should they be fined if it turns out they were breaking a rule or regulation? Should they be barred from returning to, say, a national park where they were rescued?"

Boy Escapes Death Despite 16 Hours In Freezing Cold: "In an amazing story of survival a 13-year-old boy survived more than 16 hours in the freezing cold California mountains without shoes."

Searching With Compassion, Surviving With Grace: "If you're looking for courage, dignity and faith this holiday season, it's in plain sight with search-and-rescue teams and the loved ones of the lost."

Find any interesting SAR articles lately? Let me know, and I'll add them to my SARStoriesNews posts, including who submitted them (with a link to your SAR or team site if applicable).