Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Putting together a good chase team should be easy especially if you are already involved with people who have the skills needed to conduct this kind of a search. A lot of factors come into play. Team leaders can be pilots, operations specialists, ground support specialists, medic/extrication specialist. A team may very well have an overflow or pool of members to draw on in an incident. Everyone who attends the searches is going to learn and hone their skills with respect to ASAR.
I am a paramotor pilot and I fly a trike. I am a rookie still with only 19 flights to my credit currently, but I expect to get one to four flights every week for the foreseeable future if the weather cooperates. I have a great ground support guy, Don who is my second pair of eyes and ears and he is a natural at working across from me, suiting up, setting up and keeping an ear and an eye on the sky. I have recruited my third team member Terry, who will function as my medic and all-around rescue guy, that is the guy who gets to me first if I go down somewhere unplanned. I have known Terry for 28 years and we served together on Engine 14 my rookie year with the fire department. He was the engineer (driver) and I was jump seat. He is a remarkable person; an expert rope guy and he participates in and enjoys events that test his skills even after retirement. I am still looking for an operations specialist (OS or "Ops guy or gal") but have several prospects in mind and a large pool to recruit from.
If you are a paramotor pilot, you are a prime candidate for being a team leader. You should already have a ground support person. Flying a paramotor is like swimming and only a fool does it alone. If you go down without a witness, you are basically foreclosing on the EMS golden hour window. Even with Glympse you are tempting fate. Time spent looking for you after somebody determines you are missing can be fatal. We are all about safety doing this. But you may not know anybody that can fill the other rolls with background skills to suit the team or the nature of the business. There are several places you can start your search. First, join ASAR National and dress for success. Get a hat and a patch for your jacket. I don't make enough money on them to count for anything. Professionalism is the key. Start with your friends or anybody who has expressed an interest in your flying. If that fails, present yourself to any local fire station and ask them if they know anybody that would be interested in getting involved in building a search and rescue team with you. Bringing your paramotor is a big plus and always an ice breaker.
An even better place to visit is the city or county Special Response Team station but I would work my way up to it by going through a smaller station first. Shake some hands, learn some names and ask if they know anybody who would be interested in joining an ASAR team. The SRT firefighters are basically the Special Ops guys for the fire department. They are sometimes referred to as "Squadies" because their apparatus is usually called the "Squad" truck. They have egos like all Special Operatives do, but they won't be able to resist something as novel as a paramotor. The department may have a pilot in its ranks and that opens the door to forming a two team Squadron right out of the gate. They are all adrenaline junkies. Bring the names or the personages of a couple of interested firefighters you have met from a smaller house to break the ice and then show them what you have and tell them about the organization. There is something about paramotors that hold people's attention.
There are other departments you can recruit from, like law enforcement, Civil Air Patrol, USAR members, local dog SAR clubs, Jeep clubs or jet ski SAR clubs and the like that may very well be interested but you will need to explain the broader picture to them. Explain to them that you need boat, ATV and equipment operators as well and that you need people that are good at computers and cyber navigation and the like. They are not just there to make your flying easier for you. Show them the ASAR website and get their names, phone numbers and email addresses. Invite them to come and see you fly and hold a team builder class when they do come to watch. The main thing is to get them involved quickly and regularly. Time will dim their enthusiasm if you aren't on top of it.
If you are a firefighter or EMS person or if you are currently involved with a SAR team and the level of activity is not really what you want, you should consider forming your own team and recruiting a pilot. The very best way to find a good pilot locally is to go to or call any of the smaller airports in the area and ask the airport manager if they have paramotors flying there and how do you get in touch with the pilots. One way to make contacts is to go to a fly-in like the one I just went to at Suwanee county municipal airport. Find them online. We will post events on the homepage of the ASAR website. Most of these events are three days of fun and you can meet a lot of pilots that are open to joining a team and learn a lot about the sport at the same time. There are some crazy paramotor pilots out there, so use good sense and take the time to vet him or her well. If they are into extreme aerobatics, then you might want to consider someone with less skills. All that is required for ASAR is straight and level flying. You don't want someone who is going to create more problems than they solve.
Remember that as the team leader you are going to be mostly responsible for organizing training and paying for much of the costs of the team. Try to establish a solid team and then go after contributors. Get your website or blog up and then ask for patronage. Post exciting and informative videos on YouTube and send links to ASAR National. It will drive up your viewership and you may be able to monetize your channel to cover the costs. Think big!
On another note, my patches came in. Remember two free ASAR National patches to any team that signs up. Actually, I will throw in a patch for each member of the team up to 3 for foot launchers and 4 for trikes who have created and bought their Squadron shoulder patches. While supplies last. I hope to have the ASAR National and the 451st merchandise store up and running soon. I'll let you know how it progresses. And I am putting together my flight suit. I will always wear it during a search operation for several good reasons but mostly because everybody will know you mean business. More on how I came up with the uniform in the next article. Stay tuned.
Please feel free to make constructive comments or ask pertinent questions. We are looking for insights. If you are interested in ASAR, please subscribe or better yet, start a team.
What do we do?
How do we do it?
"Red Angel One - Commencing search pattern."