Class Descriptions

Advances in Techniques and Technology for Rope Rescue in the Wilderness (2 hrs) taught by John McKently and Matt Scharper

Updates on new trends for rope rescue in a wilderness setting. We will discuss and build dual capability twin tension rope systems and show how they can simplify training, expedite the rescue and improve system safety. Why there is a movement away from the traditional loaded main and slack belay rope systems. New ways to consider static system safety factors and an opportunity to use new rope and hardware. 

An Overview of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) for Emergency Service Staff ( 50 min) taught by Kevin Jessee 

An introduction to Autism and how staff may interact and support individuals with ASD in an emergency situation.  

Synopsis of the class.  Attendees will gain an understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders, the common characteristics, behaviors and how it is diagnosed. Attendees will also be introduced to actual cases to help understand the disability and how to alter our own behaviors to improve outcomes in emergency situations

 Basic K9 Ropes Course (1 hr) taught by John McKently and Matt Scharper

Handlers would need helmet, leather gloves, their human harness, daisy chains and locking carabiners

Basic ropes-Harnesses for K9s, attaching K9 to handler.  Set up an anchor to attaching the dog (try front and back attachment of K9 to handler) to rappelling.

Benefits of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for SAR Missions (2 hrs) taught by Sgt. Shawn Hermosillo 

Introduction to UAV and the SAR Mission 

California SAR, The Big Picture  (2 hrs) taught by Assistant Chief Troy Clegg 

"California SAR, The Big Picture" National, State, Local SAR - This is your chance to hear what is happening as a result of national as well as statewide efforts with SAR.  Your State SAR Coordinator will present a briefing as to what is happening Nationwide and how it will affect the State SAR program and you.  From FEMA/NIMS resource typing to FEMA/NIMS SAR credentialing, to California’s Mutual Aid Guidelines to Legislation. Your State SAR Coordinator, your County SAR Coordinators, and your Sheriffs are very busy protecting and improving upon the State SAR program.  This session will give you the details as well as give you the opportunity to share your concerns, opinions, or ideas. This is your chance to spend time with your State SAR Coordinator and view the “Big Picture” as well as have the opportunity to express your thoughts. 

CalTopo for K9 Handlers (1 hr) taught by Lt Susan Jensen 

Basic understanding of how to: scan the code, access the map, navigate to their assigned area, and use live tracking to record their tracks.  This training will focus on what you as a K9 handler need to know with regards to CalTopo.  This is not an in-depth CalTopo training and is not intended to teach you CalTopo incident management techniques. 

This training will cover the following basics: download, create an account, QR codes/bookmarking, stored maps, navigation, distance, layers, markers, location, sharing, record and save, add areas/assignments, trainings.

Camp Stoves and Water Treatment (2 hrs) taught by Travis Johnson REI

Workshop to get to know a variety of backcountry water treatment methods and stoves. You will learn about the condition in which each will work best and potential challenges you may face with them in sub-optimal conditions. From pumping a liter of water through a filter to boiling water for freeze-dried meals, you will experience the gear first-hand and be better able to decide on critical equipment for your next adventure. 

Crime Scene for SAR (1 hr) taught by  Assistant Chief Celeste Fowler

This course is for SAR members and provides a foundational understanding of a crime scene.  The course will touch on the following: preservation, documentation, SAR’s role, Detective’s role, and Coroner’s role. 

Critical Incident Stress: Education for the SAR Professional (2 hrs) taught by Kristi Miller-Mayhew

Have you ever experienced stress while you were on a search? I believe if we were all honest, we can say HECK yes! From the time we get the call out to the time we start our search assignment, we all experience some element of positive stress (Eustress), which motivates us to push ourselves on a search. However, sometimes we have negative stress (Distress) from things we experience in the field. Distress can affect us on multiple levels if we don't identify it and talk about it. Critical Incident Stress: Education for the SAR Professional is a Pre-Incident Education class that is designed to teach SAR Volunteers (beginning to advanced) and Law Enforcement Officers, how to identify signs and symptoms of distress (negative stress) caused by a critical incident. By the completion of this class, you will be able to define what a Critical Incident is, have a better understanding of the three types of Critical Incident Stress (Acute, Cumulative and Delayed) and identify the ways Critical Incident Stress can impact your lives. 

Direction of Travel for Trailing K9s (3 hrs) taught by Jan Friedrichsen 

This course will focus on the new Cal OES Direction of Travel (DOT) certification exercise. It will begin with a classroom section, describing what, why and how. The practical section will include a demonstration of how to set up the exercise and a demonstration of a team running the exercise. There will be time for participants to develop a DOT “intersection”. There should be plenty of time for questions and answers. 

Dog Ops: Recap of 2012 Sierra Lamar Search through the Perspective of Canine Operations (1 hr) taught by Kristine Black 

Deep dive into Dog OPS through the critical role the canines played in the Sierra Lamar Search in 2012. I will be reviewing the efforts from when Sierra went missing to the day in court when Antolin Garcia-Torres was found guilty of the murder of Sierra Lamar. I will walk you through how the canines were used, the lessons learned, and how search and rescue personnel can end up in court.  This will be an excellent opportunity for both beginning and experienced teams to see a search from the beginning to the end. 

Effective searching/Search Strategy (2 hrs) taught by  Donna Sanford 

This course will aid participants in determining effective strategies in searching large and small areas the most effective and efficient way possible.  CalTopo segmentations of areas for assignments and how to segment search areas in the field to ensure effective and complete coverage discussions will take place. This course will aid ground, horse, ATV, and K9 teams in useful ways to work without overextending or overworking the team members, horses, or K9s.  Proper utilization of various techniques how and when to employ different search types.  Practical exercises in the field utilizing search areas developed in CalTopo will be practiced.  Participants will then return to the classroom for a discussion regarding lessons learned in the field.  Participants will need the CalTopo App or similar. 

Environmental Emergencies and Hemorrhage Control - SkyLife Air Ambulance

This course will cover basic identification and management of environmental emergencies such as hyperthermia, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hypothermia. Students will be able to identify signs and symptoms of these conditions and be able to properly manage patients at a basic level, while awaiting higher level of care providers. Students will also be able to identify venous and arterial hemorrhage while identifying the differences between both. Students will be shown proper hemorrhage control management techniques including tourniquet application, direct pressure, and packing of wounds.

Forensic Anthropology Methods and Applications (2 hrs) taught by  Dr. Colleen Milligan, Dr Eric Bartelink, and Dr. Ashley Kendell

This course will provide training in the common methods employed by Forensic Anthropologists to assist with the identification and analysis of human skeletal remains. Methods will include (but are not limited to) human vs. non-human identifications, forensic taphonomy and wildfire search protocols and victim recovery. 

Foundation Skill Development for the HRD K9 and Handler (3 hrs) taught by Kathryn Stewart, PhD 

This 3-hour class will explore the concepts of setting a solid foundation through training specific skills for HRD deployments with your K9.  In addition, there will be a review of learning theory as it applies to K9 training with the goal of understand the WHY of training decisions. This is designed to allow handlers to create solid training experiences and when necessary, to identify/avoid mistakes. The class will end with handlers practicing setting up some fun, simple and easy to use drills and working dogs on these problems.  Handlers are welcome to attend without a dog. 

Friendly Force Tracking Overview (all day) taught by California Military Department

The California Military Department (CMD) plays a vital role in implementing satellite-enabled platforms and ensuring effective coordination between agencies during planned/emergency operations. CMD's involvement in Friendly Force Tracing efforts enhances situational awareness, communication, and coordination during joint operations, including Search & Rescue (SAR) missions. 

Training Breakdown

From Training to deployment (1 hr) taught by Kayla Hardin 

This class will explore the journey that a canine team takes from that initial runaway or imprint on odor up to and past deployments. We will discuss building strong foundational skills, preparing for real-life searches during training, and maintaining motivation.  We will review real-world searches and share lessons learned and how training has changed as a result.  This class will also touch on proper canine selection and reward.  Students should come with an open mind and be prepared to engage in the discussion. 

Helicopter Procedure (Approximately 5.5 hrs) taught by California Highway Patrol 

This class introduces the CHP Helicopter lift procedure and is conducted in 2 parts.  The morning is the ground portion, which includes a safety briefing, and rescue procedure The afternoon portion of the class is the actual lift.  Pick 1 of 2 morning sessions and then in the afternoon both groups will meet together for the lift portion.  This class is limited to 12 each for the ground portion for a total of 24 students max. 

K-9 Evidence (1 hr) taught by Cindee Valentin 

This course will cover types of evidence HRD teams may encounter in crime scenes along with explanations of the fragility of that evidence. We will look at developing strategies to your search, with minimal impact to other evidence in the scene. We will discuss developing the handler’s mind-set and the dog’s expectations for working scenes that cannot sustain disturbance. We will discuss how to approach situations when a canine offers multiple final responses that cannot be validated as well as change in behavior (alerts) without final responses. 

K9 Trailing Tactics (handlers) (1 hr) taught by Shay Cook

An overview of good search strategy, using wind, clues and terrain to your advantage. This class will merge years of area and cadaver handler experience and bring in the trailing handler perspective. I will go over: Importance of scent articles, how to tackle the start of your trail, positive or negative, terrain variables, decision points, contamination, scent voids and other obstacles we encounter when searching. This will include discussion about real experiences on searches. 

K9 Training for Ground Searchers - Forging an Effective Partnership (1 hr) taught by Yvette Skinner 

The objective of this class is to enable Ground Searchers to become well-prepared for K9 teams to maximize the effectiveness of the team.  No prior experience working with K9 teams is necessary.  The class will introduce the types of K9s, how they operate within the search process, and how to support the K9 and handler in the field for maximum POD and increased searcher safety. The target audience for this class are Ground Searchers or K9 handlers seeking to improve their effectiveness “flanking” a K9 team.

Land Navigation (2 hr) taught by Jason Abbott 

Curriculum will include map reading, compass use, magnetic declination, UTM coordinate system, route finding, topographic map features, and the use of Avenza Maps and GPS units in conjunction with map and compass to effectively determine and communicate your position and plan for the best routes of travel. Students will need to arrive with a declination-adjustable compass and a smartphone with the free "Avenza Maps" app loaded. Students should also have a basic familiarity with whatever GPS units their team uses and bring a GPS unit if possible. 

Lost Person Behavior (2 hrs) taught by Dr. Christopher Young

Lost person behavior is the cornerstone of search and rescue efforts. Based upon a landmark study, this course is based on the book Lost Person Behavior – A Search and Rescue Guide on Where to Look - for Land, Air, and Water by Robert Koester (published 2008 by dbS Publications), and is the definitive guide to solving the puzzle of where a lost person might be found. This course will cover the latest information and research found in the book regarding the lost person behavioral profiles. Particular emphasis is placed on the latest research concerning Alzheimer's, despondents, mentally retarded, psychotic, abducted children, cross-country skiers, mountain bikers as well as 41 separate categories of lost or missing persons. The participant will learn important background information, its implications for search and rescue, how to establish a prevention program, search statistics, behavioral statistics, and how to plan a search for each subject type. Additional discussion will cover behavioral profiles, urban verses wilderness statistics, suggested initial tasks, and specialized investigative questions. The participants will have the opportunity to work several practical 

Practical Aspects for HRD handlers: sources, selection, handling, storage, containers, gadgets, “pseudo” aids, science supported tips and tactics (1hr) taught by Mary Cablk, PhD 

This class will provide information to handlers on a variety of practical matters related to HRD, centered around training aids. The class will cover the types of training aids, their use, selection, storage, handling, placing and maintenance. The class will cover the variety of training aids commonly lumped into the category of “pseudo scent” and discuss relatively new substrates and filter containers, such as GetXent tubes and TADDs®, respectively, along with others. Attendees will learn how to translate current best practices into practical, everyday procedures and protocols to enhance the integrity, specificity and sensitivity of their canine’s target odor signature. We will discuss contamination and cross-contamination, their effect on and implications for the canine’s odor signature. This class will be conducted with limited slides relying more heavily on audience-directed discussion of these topics. Exemplars will be provided for an interactive experience.

Quad Training (4 hrs) taught by TCSO Certified Personnel

This class focuses on the use of Quads in SAR.  Participants must successfully complete the ATV Safety Institute E-Course and print out their certificate prior to arriving at SCICON.  During the class participants will learn aspects of the use of a quad and get hands-on experience under the supervision of instructors to complete their certification process.  Quads will be furnished by TCSO.  If a participant brings their own quad, it must be inspected and approved by the instructors before they can use it in the training.   12 participants max per class. 

Reality of Scent (1 hr) taught by Shay Cook

This is an expanded Scent Theory class that incorporates the basic knowledge of Scent Theory with real life scenarios. The course will include ideas and discussion on how to create challenging scent problems in your training, both for area and trailing teams.  The different challenges of scent on searches versus what we create in training. 

Report writing for SAR (1 hr) taught by  Assistant Chief Celeste Fowler

This course is for SAR members.  When should a report be written, what needs to be in it, what should not be in it, organization of the report and who gets the report. 

 SAR Basics and Theory (1 hr) taught by Steve Maricle 

In this course we will go over the basics of Search and Rescue. This course is designed for new SAR Members to increase their understanding of what SAR is, how it works, what gear they may need, and what we expect from our volunteer searchers. 

We will cover topics such as:

SAR Debriefing (1.5 hrs) taught by James Kuthy

SAR Intelligence…and being smart about it  (2 hrs) taught by Dr. Christopher Young

Intelligence: the act of gathering information. Most SAR Managers will agree that there is a wealth of information out there about our missing subjects. From interviewing persons having first-hand knowledge of the missing person, to the use of social networks like Facebook, "crowd sourcing", cell phone tracking and other emerging technologies to mine information that will eventually be used to build a subject profile and lists of places to search. This presentation will discuss the various sources of intelligence and learn how evaluated conclusions drawn from such information will develop scenarios that can be the deciding factor to expand, contract or conclude the search effort. We will also emphasize that the gathering of facts in the SAR world really requires the work of a full-time coordinator on the general staff. It is time to elevate the power and workload from a footnote in the standard ICS chart, buried under the Plans Section, to the Intelligence/Investigations Section it deserves.

SAR Track Aware (4 hrs) taught by Fernando Moreira

Class description unavaliable at this time.

Success on deployments: blind and double-blind training *3 parts*  (1hr) taught by Mary Cablk, PhD 

This class will teach handlers about blind and double-blind methods in training for self-assessment, confidence building, and success on deployments. This class is comprised of three parts: (1) A classroom lecture, (2) field scenarios, and (3) debrief in classroom/field.

Part 1) The classroom lecture is appropriate for handlers of all levels of experience from any canine discipline and for individuals who support canine teams in training. The classroom lecture covers a narrow range of topics related to developing handler confidence and increasing capability in the SAR dog team. The objective is to provide handlers of any discipline with an understanding of how to progress into a “train like you search, search like you train” mode of operation. The topics covered include: cueing, bias, validation, known, blind, double blind, proficiency. Parameters of the field exercises will be established along with a Q & A session.


(Part 2) The scenario field exercises are for dogs trained in or in training for human remains detection. Attendance at the classroom lecture is required to run the scenario field problems. Two or more areas will be set up for handlers to work a real-world scenario double-blind at their own pace. The parameters of the exercise will be explained in the classroom lecture beforehand. There will be no proctor. The solutions will be discussed in the debrief on Sunday morning. Hide(s) will be available to calibrate dogs and de-stress handlers with a known find, available at any point during the exercises. With this format, only the handlers themselves will know their own results. This field exercise provides handlers with the opportunity to challenge themselves on what is essentially a “real search”, with a known solution. Handlers will have the opportunity to assess dependencies in the team, propensity to miss or false alert, and put into practice skills learned in the classroom lecture. There will be no observers allowed in the search areas.


(Part 3) The debrief is for those handlers who attended the classroom lecture and then participated in the field exercises. This classroom and field lecture combined provides the solution to the field exercises to include a walk-through of the areas. The objective of this part of the course is to provide handlers with the solution to the field exercises so that they may complete their self-assessment. The instructor will lead the discussion about the exercises and will answer questions. While handlers will not be requested to divulge their own results, they may share what they experienced at their discretion as part of the discussion.

Swiftwater Awareness and Safety for SAR Responders (2 hrs) taught by Sgt. Brad McLean

Water rescue emergencies present some of the greatest challenges and risks to the rescue professional. Life threatening situations develop quickly and require immediate action. Public safety teams that are untrained and ill equipped to handle water-related emergencies, expose themselves to untold  risks. Firefighters, law enforcement officers and members of the search and rescue community can all become victims during rescue events. This course will provide attendees with in-depth discussion, instruction and understanding of technical waterborne rescue and recovery operations including hydrology, scene management, industry best practices, risk mitigation, basic rescue and self-rescue techniques. This course will not certify participants in swiftwater rescue swimming, boat handling or technical rescue disciplines.

 Synopsis of the class(s):

Causes of Swiftwater Drowning

Personal & Team Equipment 

River & Swiftwater Hydrology & Understanding Water Features

Water Hazard Awareness

Operational Planning

Fundamental Bank Rescue Techniques

Self Rescue Techniques

Victim Rescue Techniques

Hands-on Throw Bag Techniques and Usage

The Dementia/Alzheimer’s Search (2 hrs) taught by Dr. Christopher Young

Managing the Missing at Risk Incident Every day around the world, persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia become confused and disoriented and wander off from their caregivers. Law enforcement officers, and search and rescue teams, are often called to respond to these persons missing at risk incidents. These calls are becoming more and more commonplace, yet those responding underestimate the severity of danger that a wandering Alzheimer’s person faces. This presentation will provide the first responder with an introduction of the needed information and skills to successfully manage these types of incidents 

Water Recovery Canines – Detecting people under water (1 hr) taught by Mary Cablk, PhD 

This class will teach attendees about water recovery canines and their use in California and the western US where conditions include a wide range of environments from tidal marine to high alpine. The presentation includes video and photos to illustrate concepts specific to how canines detect and work drownings. Training and deployment parameters will be discussed with case studies illustrating these concepts. This class is for anyone with an interest in water recovery canines from handlers to SAR managers. 

Wilderness Medicine (2 hrs) taught by Dr. Cory D. Jaques 

Class description unavaliable at this time.