FAQ

When can I go on a search?
When you have completed the FTM workshop (or have received sufficient information from a member of BRMRG) and have your field pack checked off, you will be Call-out-Qualified and placed on the roster to be called for the next search.

I’m not sure about how much time I will have, do I have to go on the search?
No. You are in no way obligated to respond to any mission. School, work, and family often come before searches! This is volunteer, and sometimes, other priorities come first. However, the group appreciates your dedication to helping in those emergencies.

What do I do at a search?
When you first arrive, you will sign the SAR registration to let base know you are there and ready to go in the field. (Do NOT walk into base! They are busy dealing with law enforcement, family, and assigning tasks) Find a field team to join (or someone will ask you to join one) and your Field Team Leader will get a task from base. You will then go with your team into a designated area to search as directed by your FTL and return to base. A task averages about 4 hours. Other tasks you might be doing as an CQ include: running the base radio, helping to set up radio equipment, making copies of maps for the field.

What about summers and holidays?
BRMRG operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 leap years)… if that isn’t hard core, what is? You will be asked to fill out availability for these times.

How do I get to the searches? What if I don’t have a car?
BRMRG operates throughout Virginia and portions of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina… no wonder you are worried about getting there! We travel in caravans to the search and keep careful tabs on you in dispatch (it stays manned until everyone is physically back to Charlottesville). Members may use their own cars, but many will leave theirs behind to split the driving in another vehicle. You are reimbursed for gas mileage. There is no probelm if you do not have your own transportation, dispatch can arrange a ride for you.

When are trainings? What do they involve?
Classroom trainings are on Wednesday nights from 7-8. Field trainings are Saturdays starting at 9am and typically last until 3 or 4pm. Bring your field pack for all Saturday trainings… we will be teaching wilderness survival, land navigation, technical rope skills, search techniques, simulations, working with dogs, among other topics. You will also be certified in wilderness medicine first aid and CPR. Although BRMRG does not teach an EMT cirriculum, many of our members go to a local rescue squad for this training and take a new Wilderness EMT supplement. See the training schedule on the web.

What happens if I miss a training?
If you miss a training, it is your responsibility to learn missed information from a member of BRMRG. They will be glad to help you out! We all have rough schedules and understand missing trainings. If in fact, you will not be able to attend trainings this semester but want to remain active in the group– please do!

What comes after Call-Out-Qualified?
Field Team Member (FTM) is the next level of testing. After about one semester of training, you can take the following tests to move up a level in qualification: FTM knots, FTM land navigation, FTM written test, Semi-technical rescue BRMRG offers many leadership positions and training for advancement. You can progress through the ranks of SAR by becoming a Field Team Leader (FTL), Field Team Signcutter (FTS), Incident Staff (IS), and perhaps Incident Commander (IC). Officers positions include: Medical, Operations, Communications, Equipment, Public Information, Finance, and Training.

How much is it going to cost?
Nothing, nada, zilch. BRMRG has no membership fees. You will need to assemble your field pack essentials, but this should be a fairly minimal cost for the training and experiences you will receive.

Training Levels

There are five levels of training. Many members will continue training throughout their stay in the group. Others will attain a certain level and then limit their involvement to search missions. For all the rules & regulations, check out the ASRC Training Standards.

CQ: Call-out Qualified: This is the first level of training. It includes attending an introductory workshop that usually takes place over the course of a weekend. Training involves an overview of clue awareness, radio protocol, wilderness survival, and litter handling. Once the member has assembled their personal pack consisting of The Essentials he or she is qualified to be called out on a search mission and will be placed on the roster.

FTM: Field Team Member: This level of training is more extensive and continues over the course of a semester. Training sessions are held typically on Wednesday evenings (classroom) and Saturday mornings. Not everyone is able to make it to every training. Group members rely on each other to filtrate knowledge, working around personal schedules. Training includes land navigation, semi-technical rescue, search techniques, basic first aid and CPR certification, knot tying, bivouac, and field experience. Once certified, the member is qualified to go out on field tasks during a search mission. This is also the minimum training level required to be a voting member of BRMRG.

FTL: Field Team Leader: This training extends that learned in FTM training. Work includes leading a field team, land navigation, advanced vertical work, more knot tying, and landing zone coordination. A person at this level can lead a field team on tasks at a search.

IS: Incident Staff: Incident Staff is responsible for assigning field tasks, organizing strategies, and planning the logistics of the search. An incident staff member has considerable experience with search and rescue missions.

IC: Incident Commander: The Incident Commander oversees and takes on responsibility for the entire search.

Training Introduction

General Information This organization is a unique opportunity for those interested in the outdoors and emergency medical services. The training provides a strong sense of teamwork and accomplishment. Over the years, the group has continued to provide exceptional service to the community and the University. Volunteers consist of both undergraduates and graduates from all of the schools, as well as alumni and other members of the community.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group (BRMRG) starts a training class each fall, set to coincide with the academic year of the Universtiy of Virginia. At the begininng of the fall semester we host a general information meeting/ slide show, followed by an open house in our offices. Training for the year will begin shortly after these meetings. Most members join at this time. We welcome new members and trainees throughout the entire year, so please contact us for more information. Trainings take place on Wednesday nights. Practical training is held on Saturday mornings at Observatory Hill or other nearby locations. Check the training schedule for details.

Contact Information BRMRG is located in Charlottesville, VA, and associated with several other groups throughout Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. If you do not live in one of these areas, take a look at our SAR Contacts Page to find a group in your area. E-mail our training officer Russell Peavey.