Pennsylvania Search and Rescue Council

General Meeting Minutes

September 24, 1994

Attendance: see Attachment #1.

The meeting was called to order at 10:15 by President Peter McCabe (301-596-5554/ Quorum: Twelve organizations were represented by official representatives present at the initial roll call; Irv Lichtenstein (GPSR) brought up a point of order: teams "delinquent" in paying their 1994 dues are, according to a motion passed some six years ago, not voting members. Irv had asked for a statement from the Treasurer as far as which member teams had been paid members at various times during the year (see Attachment #2). However, Irv was unable to produce a copy of this motion, nor was the secretary able to find this in the old minutes. Even if only those teams whose dues were paid by the end of the first quarter were permitted to vote, a quorum would still be present. Therefore there was a consensus that a quorum had been established.

Officer Reports

Secretary's Report

Minutes of June Membership Meeting and August Board of Directors meeting were distributed to those present; these also had been mailed to teams. The Secretary (Keith Conover, M.D. [AMRG/NCRC], 412-561-3413/ reminded teams who haven't gotten their ballots in yet to mail them in. Mountain/Valley SAR hadn't received their packet, so the Secretary provided their representatives a ballot packet.

Treasurer's Report

See Attachment #3 for financial statement.

Moved by Conover (AMRG/NCRC), seconded by Lichtenstein (GPSR): that all teams on the 9/16/94 letter from the Treasurer (Attachment #2) be accepted as voting members of PSARC. Additional amendment to the motion to include WEST, too, (proposed by Conover, and accepted by Lichtenstein) as they were told that there dues were paid in past official communications, though the Treasurer recently could find no record of it. Unanimous vote in favor.

President and Directors Report

President distributed new list of PSARC Officers (see Attachment #4)

Empowerment: wants to invigorate the committee structure using management techniques used by several major corporations.

Regional Reports

New Eastern and Western Regional Coordinators appointed.  Coordinators are: Roy Keiser (STRIKE; 1-717-742-8846 (H); 1-717-742-2319 (W)), Central Region; Nelson Haas (Mountaineer SAR; 1-814-486-1784 (H)), Northern Region; Mike Yee (AMRG; 1-412-462-7285 (H); 1-412-575-1312 (Pager)), Western Region; Jay Cooke (GPSR), Eastern Region.  Keiser and Haas have developed a draft of what the role of the Regional Representatives should be (see Attachment #5). Nothing else to report.

Committee Reports


Martha-Ann Ackroyd-Geary (Somerset SAR; 1-814-926-2554 (H))

Martha got a check from Thornhurst, anda new resource East Penn Mountaineers Resource Form. There is a new address from Forestry. A woman in Easton, PA wrote wanted to join a team and will be referred to the nearby teams.

Standards Committee

Tom Hirchak [Keystone SAR; 814-946-0168], chair; Martha-Ann Ackroyd-Geary [Somerset SAR; 814-926-2554], Roy Keiser [STRIKE; 717-742-8846], Jim Howley [Thornhurst SAR; 717-842-9412], with others sitting in from time to time

No activity at present. Keith Conover (AMRG/NCRC): point of information: at a previous meeting had voted to table the medical standards work pending the pending ASTM standards on Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician.

Will reactivate work on the equine standard: Cole Brown (TROT SAR) and Tina Clark (GPSR) are working on this, but need to involve Huntingdon Sheriff's Posse and EquiSAR (new mounted team in SW Pennsylvania, not PSARC members yet) and coordinate with Chair Hirchak. Need to address whether it will be a team-oriented or individual-oriented standard.

Rescue Specialist standard: do we want to position this standard similar to Mountain Rescue Association standards, or less? Will discuss under new business. [but never got around to it --KC]

Training Committee

Jim Howley (Thornhurst SAR; 1-717-842-9412), Chair

Implementing the standards into a training program: Martha-Ann Ackroyd-Geary (Somerset SAR) is working on developing tests, for use at Fire Academy courses and by individual teams. Earliest "activation" of the PSARC standards would be Spring 1995 (and this is an optimistic date).

Communications Committee

Steve Houck (WEST/SMRG), Chair; 1-703-257-7659/

No news to report.

Bylaws Committee

Jim Hill (Mifflin SAR; 717-248-5595), chair; Keith Conover (AMRG/NCRC); 412-561-3413/], Andy Appel (WEST; 1-717-295-4532 (W); 1-717-295-4820 (FAX)

Was empowered to update the Bylaws (Articles of Incorporation) with a purposes section, which is now at mail ballot.  Ms. Hackman has resigned due to time pressures (also, SAVES is no longer a member --KC). Keith has been too busy to help much. The chair needs new members for the committee; Andy Appel (WEST) volunteered.

Other Old Business

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Peter McCabe (MSAR)

Has received some information from the International Association of Fire Chiefs and is expecting more information in the near future. Will ask under new business whether the intent of PSARC is to pursue this to allow those with disabilities to meet the PSARC CQ standards. [but never got to that, either --KC]

Moved by Gayle James (STRIKE), seconded by Irv Lichtenstein (GPSR): that the present Directors ballot be declared invalid because the Board of Directors acted improperly in removing  Bruce's name, as there is no basis in the Articles or Robert's Rules for this action. Discussion, James Howley, Tina Clark, nominations committee: we collected resumes, contacted every person nominated to be sure they were eligible. Rose Keller, member of nominating committee: thought. Ron Wisbith, Director: voted for removal of that name; returned mail doesn't remove legal obligations to respond; used example of IRS writing you; if you don't pick up your mail, you're still responsible for official written communications. Martha: repeated written communications returned to her, unable to reach him by multiple phone calls (can show phone bills). Other discussion: If disciplinary action is considered against someone, is he a valid candidate? Tina: Nominating committee verified Bruce's his addresses with him, so they should have been valid. However, the nominating committee thought that since disciplinary action had not been completed, he was a valid candidate. Observed by some that unless there are specific restrictions in the Articles or other Council procedures, the nomination should stand; if there are widely-known complaints against an individual, these should be reflected in the democratic voting process and there should be no need to remove the name from nomination.

Written ballot requested and done. Results: Aye 11, Nay 2, Invalid 1. [Note that, based on the numbers, several directors changed their vote, presumably based on the previous discussion. --KC]

PSARC Operations and Mutual Aid Activities

Some activities recently with mutual aid among PSARC member teams. Minutes of August Board of Directors meeting discussed some complaints about mutual aid activities.

Jim Hill (Mifflin SAR; 1-717-248-5595): follow up on two complaints against Mifflin County described in the August Board of Directors minutes, on page 3 (`Complaints from two teams; at recent searches, some teams were kept from going into field until Mifflin Co. SAR arrived "as per PEMA instructions."') This refers to a search for a downed aircraft, run by the Civil Air Patrol in Lycoming Co.; CAP reportedly told local SAR teams and other emergency responders they weren't needed, and they left. Mifflin Co. bus was brought in because the Lycoming Co. bus had to leave for something else. Any restriction on going into the field was related to CAP management, not Mifflin County's arrival.

Another comment in the August Board of Directors minutes: `Recent search in the Shippensburg where the SAVES team out of Shippensburg was not called but the Mifflin County team was dispatched.' Jim: When Mifflin County arrived, they called SAVES and only got one member. Had problems contacting SAVES through STATCOM.

Noted by Conover that SAVES has not paid their dues for 1994, and have not been at PSARC meetings; they are no longer PSARC members, and thus not listed at STATCOM. Anyone trying to alert SAVES through STATCOM will not get their number because only PSARC members' resource forms are kept at STATCOM.

Mission Reports and Critique

Peter: can't discuss the U.S. Air crash near Pittsburgh because NTSB hasn't debriefed involved personnel yet.

Mike Yee: had received feedback from NTSB laudatory of Rescue-40's performance. Commendation from the membership to R-40 for their good job there.

Peter McCabe (MSAR): MSAR involved in small plane crash in Shenandoah National Park a few weeks ago. Keith: heard reports of CISD team members causing problems by responding into field there. Mike Yee (AMRG): American Critical Incident Stress Foundation can field complaints (ACISF, P.O. Box 204, Ellicott City, MD  21041, 1-401-313-2473). Keith Conover (AMRG/NCRC): the Wilderness EMS Institute Wilderness EMT CISD section, created by a task group including Jeff Mitchell, the "father" of CISD, contains guidelines for integrating CISD personnel into SAR operations, and can be used by PSARC members in their dealings with CISD teams. At request of the membership Keith will include a copy of the WEMSI CISD Lesson Plan with the next mailing (Attachment #6). Ron Wisbith (R-40): at a recent search, they found the subject in someone's garage based on an unusual clue that was called in. Moral is to not discount any clues.

PEMA Report

Tom Hauger (PEMA)

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is in same position as in the past.  Because there is no legislation giving PEMA authority to regulate search and rescue, their counsel has cautioned them not to get too involved in regulating SAR, except for the Civil Air Patrol, over which PEMA has some legal authority. PEMA recently held an ICS for SAR class for the CAP; Ken Boyles (DER/Parks) was involved in teaching the session. PEMA Director LaFleur intends to see that CAP trains to PSARC standards. This is one area he has authority in. He would like to do this for ALL SAR teams, but doesn't have the authority to do so.

Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers (EPLOs): PEMA cannot do a callout of PSARC teams, due to a lack of resources. PEMA has asked PSARC to name 3 EPLOs. At the PEMA state EOC (Emergency Operations Center), PEMA has a list of several officially-designated EPLOs for every state agency. PSARC EPLOs would receive a call from PEMA and then dispatch PSARC resources. As there are no enforced SAR standards, PEMA is hesitant for liability reasons to dispatch teams (in addition to the lack of resources); PEMA would like to have PSARC make these decisions for now.

President Peter McCabe: this is an important step forward for PSARC. Some may want to keep SAR more localized (e.g., see GPSR's letter, Attachment #9), but PSARC has been moving in this direction for several years.

Vice-President Martha-Ann Ackroyd-Geary (Somerset SAR): PSARC has to decide: how do you want to be called out if there is a mission? CAP recently called Martha and asked for a general PSARC response: she spent $10 on phone calls to reach every team in PSARC. Didn't have anyone's permission, but did it anyway. Is this what we want? Or do we want to require those on a cellular phone at the Command Post to make all these calls? PEMA can't do this for us.

Irv: whoever calls out a resource is responsible for their actions as far as liability and workers' compensation. Others: not true. Jim Hill: Mifflin only responds if county EMA authorizes. Tom Hauger (PEMA): Mifflin is different than other teams in that as a county team the county picks up the insurance coverage. Peter: will form an Operations Committee to look into this in more detail. Many active issues to be discussed in depth. Carol Prosseda (STRIKE): having a hard time finding liability insurance. Irv Lichtenstein (GPSR): talk to us.

Mike Kindness (CAP): PSARC has individual standards, but haven't heard anything about team standards. Peter McCabe (MSAR): we long ago voted to implement individual standards and then later address team standards; Ken Boyles (DER-Parks) has already some draft material on team standards, and the Standards Committee will soon start work on them. Peter: Boy Scouts' insurance costs about $7/person/year. Irv Lichtenstein: $17/person/year for us.

Membership Committee

PA Tactical K9 SAR: have received letter, dues check, resource form. Moved by Irv Lichtenstein (GPSR), seconded by Andy Appel WEST) that we accept them as members. Unanimous vote in favor. Someone suggested it was from the remnants of Coventry Canine SAR, but someone present who used to be a member of Coventry said that Tactical K9 is an all-new team.

Question: how to we judge teams when we're voting? Answer: we have no standards by which to judge teams except the minimal administrative requirements required of member teams.

Standards Committee

Equine, Mantracker standards are being developed: contact Tom Hirchak if interested (roster circulated for signup).

Out-of-Sequence Motion

Moved by Irv Lichtenstein (GPSR) to deal now, rather than at the agenda-scheduled time, with resolutions presented on behalf of GPSR.  Seconded by Alan Houck (WEST): Aye 5, Nay 7, motion fails.

Training Committee

Martha: Field test on tests for CQ and FTL will be evaluated at the state Fire College at Williamsport where Martha is giving a SAR class.

Communications Committee

Would like to compile a list of hams in the various teams with callsigns. If you have access to Internet, please give addresses to Steve at

Bylaws Committee

Moved by Hill, seconded by Appel, to postpone consideration of the Bylaws amendments proposed by Lichtenstein until the next meeting, giving time for additional study by the Bylaws Committee. Preliminary study showed that some would be recommended for approval, some would not, and some would be recommended to the membership pending some revision of the wording. The Bylaws Committee will work with Mr. Lichtenstein on the wording of some items, and will also consider an amendment regarding dues and voting privileges. The President noted that it would be better to propose these all at the same time rather than taking the time and expense to do it piecemeal. Passed by unanimous consent, including Mr. Lichtenstein's assent.

Other New Business

SMRG, WEST, and MSAR all requested items be added to the agenda.

SMRG, Steve Houck: Regarding comments in "From the Chief" by Irv Lichtenstein, sent to PSARC member teams and many regulatory agencies and SAR teams nationwide: "Suggest that when you write stuff you get it accurate and correct." "I'm also a member of WEST and I took a lot of it personally." Ron Wisbith: "Rescue 40 was mentioned as part of this new association, and is not a member and does not intend to join." Tina Clark: "as professionals, we have a responsibility to see that any information we publish is accurate. The dissension and problems of interpersonal relationships are such that the work of PSARC is being compromised. This is plea to all of us to submit our interpersonal relationships to the good of the council."

WEST, Alan Houck: WEST is having a big training session Oct 22-23 as per previous minutes; PSARC member teams are invited, and it's OK to come Saturday AM.

MSAR, Peter McCabe: MSAR participated in the response to Hurricane Andrew with the Red Cross; ended up working with the U.S. Public Health Service disaster medical response teams. MSAR particularly worked with the Management Services Unit (MSU), providing management help. In recent discussions they have expressed interest in having SAR organizations help with the management response. This may involve more than incident base ICS management; it may involve inventory of local medical, rescue, or other resources. If your team is interested, let Peter know (1-301-596-5554 (H)/

Moved that we establish a SAR Dog Committee involving networking, training, standards, etc. Seconded by Andy Appel. Discussion: Peter: concerned that this might create duplication and conflict with the work of the other committees (Standards, Training, etc.) if we had a Dog Committee working in parallel with. Dog standards are ready, and we can begin testing and should. Should this be under the Training Committee, Standards Committee, or a separate Committee? Motion withdrawn with assent.


Irv Lichtenstein's 9/13/94 letter and the Secretary's 9/20/94 reply were distributed (See Attachments #7, #8). No action required; Irv had no motions related to these letters; he indicated that the Secretary's letter and other action at this meeting dealt with his concerns sufficiently.

Resolutions from GPSR.

(See Attachment #9, GPSR resolutions, and Attachment #10, Secretary's reply.)

Irv Lichtenstein asked to withdraw these resolutions; however, President McCabe ruled that since they were sent in the form of resolutions, they were on the table and will  be discussed one.

#1: Irv: believes we passed a motion that teams are "in arrears" if they haven't paid by the end of the first quarterly meeting. As noted above, neither Irv nor others were able to confirm this. In June, eight teams were "in arrears" and got a notice to this effect in the SAR Net. Martha: I remember us suggesting we develop a better billing mechanism, but no specific expiration date. ­Tom: even for renewal dues, we should still require teams pay by check on a team account; what if a team disbands and a single person keeps showing up and paying the dues? Martha: maybe we could (a) bill along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Treasurer so it doesn't end up at the wrong place, and (b) we could also send an envelope and a form to complete with a list of their voting delegates. Consensus that we allow the Board of Directors to establish when a team is in arrears, probably March 31. Jim Howley: need to make sure that each team gets a bill. Moved by Appel, seconded by Lichtenstein, to retract the motion and allow the Board of Directors to establish such a policy. All in favor.

#2: Moved by Jim Hill (Mifflin SAR) that we set aside motions 2-4, since there is no clear policy on when PSARC dues are in arrears. Not seconded, and moved by Jay Cooke (GPSR) that we have a move of good faith in the present officers, but not seconded either. Jim Hill (Mifflin SAR): I don't want to waste my time listening to Irv and Peter fight. First motion then seconded by Gayle James (STRIKE). Unanimous vote in favor.

Mission Reports

Ron: collecting mission reports was something Ken Boyles started a few years ago. To support regulation, we should have a compilation of all SAR missions by PSARC, even if we had to do so by allocating a small amount of PSARC funds. SAR reports are already supposed to go to Ken Boyles. Carol Prosseda (STRIKE) will input (or find someone to input) information from the standard NASAR forms, then will forward them to Ken Boyles, if send to her (Carol Prosseda; RR 4, Box 4350; Milton, PA  17847; 1-717-742-8555). Moved by Jim Hill and seconded by Pat Hawn (Palisades SAR Dogs) that we allocate $180 for the drill sponsored by WEST that is open to the entire Council. Unanimous consent.


We held a serious, quiet and thoughtful discussion about the strain of dealing with interpersonal conflict. This led to a final discussion wherein we recognized the great progress PSARC has made in recent years, and in particular the camaraderie evidenced by the members of various teams present. About half an hour of discussion led to a final summary by Andy Appel (WEST) of the places that PSARC is poised to go, which met with a generous round of applause.

Adjourned at 1520 hours.

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