Pennsylvania Search and Rescue Council

December 28, 1991

Board of Directors Minutes

Meeting called to order at 0930 by President Peter McCabe

Present:  Peter McCabe, Ron Wisbith, Joe Thrash; Martha Ann Ackroyd; Greg Sassaman; Keith Conover; and others including regional representatives Hirchak, Lichtenstein.  A quorum was established.

·        Peter:  would like to get PSARC to start working more like Colorado SAR Board; recently got some information from Colorado about how they are organized, and Peter will want to propose some changes to our Bylaws to make this possible.

·        Resource file will be updated on a yearly basis; blank forms were recently mailed to all member teams.

·        Consensus was that PEMA database should contain information on all SAR teams in state; resource listing at STATCOM would list only member groups.  Executive Director will make copies and send to PEMA (all), and to Secretary, Treasurer, and STATCOM.

·        Several people noted that the PSARC mailings were arriving mangled or missing parts; Peter will mail in envelopes in future.

·         Question:  what is the purpose of regional meetings?  (Because nobody was at the last Western regional with anything to report.)  Consensus:  informal get-together to

·        Martha Ann:  need statwide training availability out to teams.

·        Peter:  trying to get SAR legislation passed:  had meetings in Harrisburg with state legislators; will be very hard; anything that has DER as SAR administrator will never pass (agreed to by Greg Sassaman, State DER employee).  Will want to go back and try new approaches, possibly along lines of what Colorado does. 

General Meeting Minutes

Called to order at 10:05 AM by Peter McCabe, President

Member Team Attendance (representative in parentheses): AMRG (Keith Conover, M.D.); Mifflin Co. (Bruce Trego); NESAR (Bruce Barton); WEST (Art Kalbach); Mid-Atlantic Dogs (Brooke Holt); GPSAR (Irv Lichtenstein); Keystone SAR (Tom Hirchak); DER Parks (Greg Sassaman); Somerset Co. (Joe Thrash); R-40 (Ron Wisbith); ESAR 616 (Peter McCabe); Thornhurst (Jim Howley); PEMA (Bob Long; nonvoting representative)

A quorum (12, minimum 7) was established.

Guests: Tri-County K-9 SAR (applying for membership); Cameron Co. EMA; McKean Co. Sheriff's Dept. See sign-in sheet (attachment 1) for listing.

Letter with new official representatives received: Mifflin Co. Specialized SAR, as of December 26, 1991: Wade DeHaas is delegate, Robert Seager is alternate.

Old Business

·        Welcome and introductory remarks by President.

·        Minutes: accepted as previously mailed.

·        Treasurer's Report: (see report, attachment 2) Balance $1748.15

State Parks is now a paid member for 1991.

New Member accepted: West Branch Search Unit, Flemington, PA

Treasurer's report accepted unanimously.

·        President's report: Board has met 4 times, each time also meeting with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), and this fall also talk with a Commonwealth legislator about possibly introducing SAR legislation. Also tried to activate committee structure, allowing members to participate in a democratic way through the committee structure.

·        Western Region - Regional Coordinator not present (Lee Lyons; P.O. Box 462; Cuddy, PA 15031; 412-221-6538): meeting next will be held Saturday February 22 at 1000 hours at Childrens' Hospital, Pittsburgh. Training topic: Wilderness pediatric emergencies.

·        Central Region - Regional Coordinator present (Tom Hirchak; 713 Plateau St.; Altoona, PA 16602; 814-946-0168): meeting may be Sat. March 28 at the Lewistown Fire Academy; definite place to be established later.

·        Eastern Region - Regional Coordinator present (Irv Lichtenstein; 704 Preston Road; Erdenheim, PA 19118; 1-215-233-3360 (H); 1-215-531-5514 (W))

Eight or nine organizations were present at last meeting; mostly non-SAR people (Red Cross, etc.), so PSARC members gave a general SAR presentation; they had a general discussion about what kind of groups should join PSARC. Keith Conover observed that maybe all regional meetings should have educational programs, and be for coordination with non-SAR and support groups even though such groups might not make reasonable members, but might benefit from meeting with SAR Council groups.

White Deer SAR, a split-off dog group, said they would join PSARC, but no application has been received yet.

Next Eastern Region meeting will be March 28-29, hopefully at Great Valley.

Concern: some people complained about not enough information in the newsletter; it turned out they haven't been getting all of them (some people noted theirs arrived mangled or incomplete). Noted by others that GPSAR's next "Annual SAR Conference" and Regional SAR Council meeting has a fee attached to it. As a result:

Policy (consensus of Board of Directors): If any fees are to be collected for Regional Meetings or SAR Council courses, must be approved in advance by Board of Directors. However, it's OK to request voluntary pre-payment for optional items, e.g., for lunch, etc.

Therefore, the next Eastern Regional "Annual SAR Conference" will be officially sponsored by GPSAR, and the Regional SAR Council meeting will be held at the "Annual SAR Conference," but not requiring any fee payment just for the SAR Council Regional meeting, thus meeting the Board's new policy. There will be a fee for attending the "Annual SAR Conference." This met with the approval of all present.

Committee Reports:

·        Membership (Martha Ann Ackroyd): three ideas to increase membership were presented.

1. Develop a PSARC membership application. We can use resource form as application, as it contains most information that we need. Question: might we want to request a roster or multiple contacts for the team?

After discussion, a motion was presented to update the application procedure as follows; changes from previous policy are in italics. This was with the understanding that the membership committee may develop an actual application form to streamline the process.

Applicant teams must provide:

a. A copy of their Constitution and Bylaws or equivalent documents  or a statement of purpose. For governmental organizations, these are a matter of public record, and need not be submitted.

b. A letter on official team letterhead requesting membership including the names of three non-emergency contacts, ideally people who are easily reachable, not necessarily officers

c. A check for $25 drawn on a team account.

d. A completed Resource Form.

Motion was seconded; discussion included consensus that this does not apply retroactively to current member teams. Motion passed unanimously.

N.B. Teams who are currently members please remember to update your non-emergency contacts by sending them to PSARC at P.O. Box 504; Somerset, PA 15501

3. Increase visibility; activity with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is helping with this. Also, using programs to reach children such as Hug-a-Tree by local teams will help a lot ("Reach children and you reach their parents.")

·        Pre-Plan Committee (Larry Kearns; not present; report by Peter McCabe): We have three preplans. The preplan with DER needs to be updated. A second preplan with the Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference also needs to be updated. A general SAR Council Pre-Plan also exists. We may want to develop a formal Pre-Plan with PEMA. Others on the committee include Jim Lipko of DER Forestry (not present), and Gary Mechtel of ASRC's Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group (also not present).

·        Bylaws Committee (Andy Appel and Kevin Parkes, not present; Keith Conover, present): changes distributed and to be voted on under New Business. Complaint about lack of a "redlined" copy; duly noted; lack of volunteers to type a redlined copy also noted.

·        Training Committee (Bruce Trego, Joe Thrash?): hasn't done anything. Please put notice of individual team training that is open to others in the PSARC Newsletter by sending it to Peter McCabe (11034 Berrypick Lane; Columbia, MD 21044 1-301-596-5554 (H); 1-202-732-1567 (W)). The Pennsylvania Fire Academy now requires a new "Introduction to Safety and Techniques" and has an ambitious new curriculum. Ken Boyles, of PA Department of Environmental Resources (State Parks), and a Director of PSARC, is helping with the SAR part of this. Folders will be sent to each PSARC member team, the same as each fire company­ (per Bruce Trego). Agreed that we need to strengthen this committee.

·        Communications Committee (Joe Thrash, Bruce Barton, both present): started working on a license about a year ago. No real progress to report. The idea that we might be able to eliminate the cost of frequency coordination fees by co-applying with the state was decried, because even the state must pay frequency coordination fees. The Communications Committee will contact Brian Greenway of PEMA to see if 155.160 is available by letter of agreement with the state. Letter of agreement from ASRC possible, but ASRC has concerns about lack of control using their license, and will probably not want to do so. By end of January, Peter will expect to receive a photocopy of the submitted application; funds already allocated for this. Additional inconclusive discussion of types of licenses was referred to committee.

Mission Critiques

Introduction (Peter McCabe): this is a chance to discuss in searches in an informal manner. Ron Wisbith: now that we have better awareness of SAR, we have many lesser-trained searchers showing up for searches. Peter: teaching is a very important component of what SAR teams do.

·        Comment about drills/exercises: Need for safety officers to observe for mistakes made by tired people.

·        Need to continue working at the State Police training centers (there are three or four in the state) to get search management information out to the new recruits. Teams need to keep contact with their local State Police barracks.

·        The State Police have an AR (area regulations) manual with an appendix of resources available for various problems. Need to try to get SAR Council and its teams into this appendix.

·        Harper's Ferry search (21-24 Dec., in Virginia, near Harper's Ferry, WV):

Someone called Jim Lipko (DER Forestry SAR) during the day trying to get dogs; but where do you call at night?; PEMA was called and contacted Mifflin Co. SAR, and does have a 24-hour number. Brooke noted that local dogs (e.g., dogs 50 minutes away from search) weren't called until later even though Pennsylvania dogs were called.

Virginia Department of Emergency Services (DES) was responsible for obtaining more resources, not the IC's (who were from ASRC). This is according to Virginia DES policy; VA DES has authority and responsibility for all SAR in VA. Joe Thrash was called Monday asking for FTL's; later that night for dogs.

A long discussion featured the following points: (1) much of the alerting for this mission was done "by grapevine" rather than official channels; to some degree, this is inevitable. However, we need to improve by continuing to work on updating resource information, as now kept at STATCOM for the PSARC resource referral number (1-800-MED-STAT in PA; 1-412-647-7828 local or out of state) and with the PEMA database; (2) we need a central authority for search and rescue in Pennsylvania; and (3) until then, we need to improve the way that PSARC teams work together on missions (Keith Conover used this to put in a plug for his uniform form proposal; see below). Peter will inquire, discreetly of Virginia DES why they didn't call local teams first.

Addendum to Secretary's Report <197> Elections:

·        Ballots Received:







Search 1








ESAR 616.

Total 15. No other ballots available at 1015 hours, so elections closed.

·        Results: President: Peter McCabe. Vice President: Martha Ann Ackroyd-Geary. Secretary: Keith Conover. Treasurer: Greg Sassaman. Director: Ron Wisbith. Motion made, seconded, and accepted unanimously: to accept these results as if unanimous and destroy the ballots.

·        Note that Martha-Ann being elected as V-P opens up a director's slot, as she submitted resignation letter at this meeting.

Nominations: Keith nominated those already on the ballot for this position (Hirchak and Keizer); Gary Derr also nominated.

Eleven members voted (Ron Wisbith had to leave early); results were that Tom Hirchak was elected to fill the vacant position.

Informal Discussion Items

·        Note that FEMA has set up national urban SAR dog standards, and that Virginia is now setting up state standards for wilderness air scenting dogs. Virginia already has standards for Field Team Member and Field Team Leader for Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR), and is well-toward developing standards for Incident Staff and Incident Commander for GSAR, as well.

·        Several people noted that they would like to have a hard copy of resource list; Bob Long was curious to know why people wanted to have hard copies, because they could get the latest information at a moment's notice by calling the PEMA emergency number (PEMA EOC: 1-800-424-7362 (in PA); 1-717-783-8150 (outside PA)). The answers were many; mostly that there might be trouble getting in touch with PEMA (a variety of realistic and humorous possibilities were suggested).

·        Bruce Barton notes that "Rescue International" (1-800-426-3647; same as NE SAR) has a resource file with many SAR as well as other special response resources that is distributed nationwide, and which has a 24-hour number, which has been used in several recent incidents.

·        Discussion: in Virginia, Incident Commanders are supposed to obtain resources through Department of Emergency Services (DES), not by calling directly. However, there are some DES duty officers who may not be as helpful as others, and having a master resource list might still be valuable.

·        While other states are building up their central SAR systems, Virginia DES is willing to serve as a central resource referral. Some thought this might be due to "ulterior motives" but others observed "So what?"

New Business

·        Bylaws Proposal: Two proposals were sent out with the meeting announcement (See attachment 3.) It was observed that if neither proposal was accepted the current terms of office will prevail; thus, we had a 3-way vote. Voting was as follows: Proposal 1: 5 votes; Proposal 2: 4 votes; abstain (keep terms the same): 1 vote. Proposal 1 was accepted. Then, a motion to accept the proposed revised Bylaws was accepted by strong majority vote. (See attachment 4.)

·        Communications Committee:  license application for original proposal for 155.160 and 150.775; will be in mail to FCC by 30 January. Will contact PEMA about other frequencies.

·        Standards Committee: hasn't been activated. Now will be. Proposed members: Tom Hauger, PEMA; Mike Norris, DER Parks, Brian Witherow. Additional volunteers: Keith Conover (AMRG) will be Board liaison; Gary Derr (GPSAR), and Robert Sessions (Mid-Atlantic SAR Dogs).

·        Motion: Patches: up to $400 for obtaining as many patches as possible; Bruce Trego will get artwork to Mr. Porter with WEST, whose father owns a patch company.

·        SAR Forms Proposal (Keith Conover):

·        Keith made a preliminary proposal for a uniform set of forms to guide search managers, particularly for wilderness lost person search (see attachment 5).

This met with general approval, though Bruce Barton suggested de-emphasizing the PSARC name and allow space for the team's name. (He noted that Pennsylvania SAR teams may be very parochial and allowing them to put their own name on the forms might improve acceptance.)

At the membership's behest, Keith will complete the proposal in the next few weeks and send out with the minutes for discussion and a vote at the next statewide meeting. (Included as attachment 6.)

Keith noted that a vector graphic form of the PSARC logo is now available (Micrografx Designer .DRW format) for anyone who would like to use it (Keith Conover, M.D.; 36 Robinhood Road Pittsburgh, PA 15220-3014; 412-561-3413 (H)).

Adjourned at 3:18 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Keith Conover, M.D., Secretary.