The Patrol is only as good as its weakest member. Training is continuous: search and rescue is not mastered after one hour in the field. Likewise, specialized operations, such as technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, and emergency care are not remembered without ongoing education. One Command Staff First Lieutenant is dedicated solely to coordinating all training activities.
New members are required to complete an intensive Basic Training including classroom and field components. In-Town Basic Classroom, at the end of May, is any new member’s first experience with the patrol. It consists of administrative and procedural training and an introduction to Patrol operations. Topics such as purpose, history, mission, emergency response concepts, mobilizations, transportation, codes, dispatching and paging procedures, regulations, behavior, dismissal, structure and teams, advancement, identification and uniforms, finances and expenses, forms, records, reports, and equipment are covered.
Field Basic I and II are conducted in June for every member who wishes to remain on the team, as well as for new members. In brief, members are taken from having no knowledge of search and rescue and are taught to become a functioning part the team. Aside from basic search, rescue, and recovery techniques, advanced topics such as tracking, clue identification, field interviewing, helicopter operations, behavior of lost persons, and low-angle rope rescue are taught.
During the week between the Basic I and II weekend sessions, Search Academy is held in the classroom in town. Further training on policies is emphasized. All members are certified in Basic Life Support at the Healthcare Provider level, HAZMAT response at the awareness level, crowd and traffic control, defensive driving, communications, and basic emergency care.
All special teams hold their own training’s on an ongoing basis. Various levels of training are available on most teams. For example, the rock team trains Awareness/Basic, Support, and Technician level responders.
There are also a variety of advanced training’s available to those who are interested.
Emergency Care is an intensive EMR level course offered throughout the year. This is an advanced level EMS program with certification through the American Safety and Health Institute.
Communications class offers members certification to use the Patrol’s FCC radio license on mountain rescue channels with their own radio number. In addition, approved members may communicate on a variety of systems including Littleton Fire Rescue, South Metro Fire Rescue, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Littleton Police, FERN, NLEC, I-TAC, MRA, MAC, and other channels.
Mission Coordination introduces the member to base operations and gives them sufficient background to be able to begin running a search and rescue mission.
Map and Compass classroom and field sessions prepare members to navigate using both traditional map and compass techniques as well as GPS technology.
Survival is an overnight training in which members learn how it feels to be benighted as a field team with only their field packs for one night and how a victim feels as they are stranded alone for another night.
Ongoing training consists of Basic I, Basic II, and Search Academy for every member each year. In addition, continuing education and re-certification classes are held for Emergency Care, Swiftwater Rescue, and Technical Rescue teams. Members are encouraged to attend all training’s, even if they have taken them already.