High Level Of Performance And Endurance “So That Others May Live”
The PRSAR Newsletter!
Some Updates on the great volunteers at PRSAR
SAR Academy
Land Navigation
Peace River K9 Search and Rescue is an all-volunteer Florida Non-Profit Corporation with a Federal tax exemption 501(c)(3).

The Peace River K9 Search and Rescue Association strives to be capable of conducting full search operations for 72 hours in all weather, low-angle wilderness, and urban terrains with a competent and experienced Incident Command Staff to oversee 4-6 Operational Field teams deployed in the field for 24-hour operational periods. In order to achieve this goal, PRSAR maintains an inventory of specialized equipment and team disciplines.

One of the most important skills a Search Specialist needs is good land navigation. The art of knowing where you are on planet Earth is a perishable skill that takes practice. In today's digital age we mostly use our Cellphone to tell where we are, but when the batteries go dry, not what?
GPS receivers are a wonderful device but they also have their limitations. All receivers need a clear view of the sky and a constellation of six satellites to give proper location. In southwest Florida, many of the areas we operate in have NO Cellphone or GPS coverage. When that happens, then it's back to basics, Map and Compass.

The compass is a critical piece of equipment but is now treated as an archaic device whose time has passed, nothing could be further from the truth. The original compass was developed in China more than 2000 years ago. This simple magnetometer has been the backbone of travelers ever since.

In the Search & Rescue world, the compass falls into two categories, wet/dry or lensatic and baseplate. A lensatic compass is often referred to as a military compass and is typically used by the U.S. Military. The lensatic compass is comprised of different parts compared to a baseplate compass. The term “lensatic” comes from the fact that there is a lens on the rear side of the compass that aids in the orienteering process. Lensatic compasses are made up of three parts: cover, base, and reading lens. The cover is used to protect the compass and also incorporates the sighting wire—which helps you determine direction. The base is the compass dial, bezel, and the thumb loop—the thumb loop is used for stability to garner a more accurate reading. Lastly, the reading lens also helps cover the compass and folds out; this is where the term “lensatic” comes from.
The Baseplate compass is a favorite of the Forestry Service and the most common compass in use for Search & Rescue teams. Baseplate compasses are great all-around hiking and travel compasses. They often have a clear baseplate, which makes them great for map use. The more expensive baseplate compasses generally have slightly larger capsules with longer needles, improving the readable accuracy of the compass. Some baseplate compasses have liquid-filled needle capsules that can freeze in cold weather so keep that compass in a warm place!

Finding Your Way on a Map is the next step! Paper maps are a reliable way to find where you are and where you plan to go. There are all sorts of maps available of various areas that include roads and trails, but the best ones to purchase are topographical maps. A topo map will show you the different features of a given area, and provide more dimensions. When it comes to maps, it’s important to understand scale, which is how you’ll measure distance. If you’re hiking somewhere, a scale will give you an idea of how much farther you have to walk to get from point A to point B. To check out different types of maps, including topographical, visit the U.S. Geological Survey.
Lastly, you will need to know how far you have traveled and for that purpose, you need to know your pace count! The technique of pace counting actually goes all the way back to the Roman legions! The pace consists of counting every time your left foot hits the ground. Since PRSAR uses the US National Grid as our coordinate system, all counts are metric. We need to learn what our pace count is for 100 meters. The average is 70 paces. With that knowledge, we can now convert that to a .70 pace count factor and calculate our travel. So if we are going 800 meters we multiply that number by .7 and we get 560 paces to our destination!

So not that we have a map, a direction of travel, the known distance to the destination and a pace count, we are on our way for a nice trip through the woods! Who needs a Cellphone or GPS?

During SAR Academy, our search specialists receives more advanced training in these areas:
Human Basic & Advanced Trauma First Aid/CPR 
Day and Night Operations in Land Navigation
US National Grid Awareness level
Citizens Emergency Response Team training (CERT)
Helicopter loading/unloading and Helicopter base Operations and Safety
ASTM F3072: Intermediate Wilderness GPS/GNSS Use(GPS/GNSS-IIW) Endorsement
ASTM F2209: Standard Guide for Training of Level I Land Search Team Member
ASTM F1739:  Performance of survival swimming and self-rescue in still water
ASTM F2890: Standard Guide for Hazard Awareness for Search and Rescue Personnel

At the end of this training, the K9 team must have passed an outside certification and a PRSAR Mission Ready Evaluation (MRE) before being deployed into the field as a K9 resource.
The PRSAR training program is considered the Gold standard.

All so they can be of service to the community.

Learn more at our website www.prsar.org!
Scuba Diving couple
Meet Cahto!


You cannot be in the dog world long before you hear the phrase, “Train the Dog in Front of You.” But what in the world does that mean? For me, it meant accepting huge differences in my dogs and learning a completely new way to train.

My first Search and Rescue dog was what we refer to as “soft.” He was a sweet loving dog, with some drive, but he was never going to light the world on fire. He was compliant, learned fast, and was eager to please. Just the slightest tug on a prong collar resulted in complete compliance. By the time he was 7 years old, he was already slowing down and not showing as much interest in the job.

In contrast, my second Search and Rescue dog, Caliber, has been dubbed the “Tiny Tornado.” She is fast, thorough, and loves to work for the sake of working. She was a joy to train. She picks up new tasks quickly, and once she was taught, she had the task down pat. She is reliable, loving, and wants to please. She handles every situation with tolerance and charm, from babies and airports to horses and helicopters.

Then there is Cahto, my third dog. He is a male German Shepherd and the son of Caliber’s littermate. Genetics mean he should be easy to train like Caliber right? Wrong! There are not enough expletives to explain the anxe this dog put me through. I got him as a rebellious 17-week-old puppy. He did not want to cuddle, tug or chase the ball. He wanted to eat and destroy. Other dogs and humans were a target for his misguided “affections.” And I was merely the provider of food. To say we butted heads would be an understatement. But I was up for the challenge.

I tried all the methods that worked with my first two dogs with limited success. I truly think he was looking at me and saying, “Nah, I do not want to right now.” We powered through his first tracking certification and first Human Remains Detection certification at about 14 months, but it was not pretty. And still, he and I were not connecting. He was the “dog” and I was his handler, but the relationship went no further. I thought I had tried everything in my toolbox to motivate him.

Finally, after nearly two years, we sought help from a friend in Tennessee who trains protection dogs. She had Cahto’s number in less than a minute. She had seen tough shepherds like Cahto before. In less than 2 hours she taught me training skills I had never thought of. She explained how I was incorrectly viewing Cahto, and the type of training he needed based on his personality. She explained why the methodology that the other two dogs thrived on would never be fully successful with Cahto. Simply put, she taught me to think about training differently. I followed this visit by training with a competition trainer in Florida. We did things with Cahto that we rarely do with Search and Rescue dogs, but it worked.

Today at four years old, he is a successful Search and Rescue dog and has a few finds under his belt. I changed the way I look at dogs and the way I think about training. As a result, Cahto is a loving dog, who is eager to cuddle on the sofa and readily completes a command for a reward. He looks forward to our training sessions and works with drive and determination. He still has his edge and always will. But we have created a working relationship and become a team. I had to adjust my training style, not adjust the dog. As a result, I learned how you train the dog in front of you, and eventually with patience and hard work, ended up with the dog I wanted.

Julie Starbuck
Vice President of K9 Operations
Fundraising Opportunity Coming this Month!
The Giving Challenge is a 24-hour virtual giving event that brings together nearly 700 local nonprofit organizations listed on The Giving Partner with their passionate donors and community members to support causes and missions they care about while creating transformative impact.

The Peace River K9 Search & Rescue is proud to be counted among the many wonderful charities participating in the 2020 Giving Challenge. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!
What is a Chaplin?

As a way of introduction, many people don’t understand what a Chaplain is, and what they do. A Chaplain is simply a minister that meets the spiritual needs of others outside the walls of the church. A Chaplain is a representative of and minister of Jesus Christ or a representative of another world religion with a calling to serve within a secular institution or in the community at large.

There are many types of chaplains operating today. The area of service can include Community, Educational Institutions, Law Enforcement Agencies; Emergency Services or Fire Departments; Environmental; Health Care; Military; Parliamentary; Prisons; Sports; Corporate; Cruises; Soup Kitchens; Disaster Areas; Motorcycle Clubs to name a few.

Duties of Chaplains can include Death notification; Counseling through suicide threats, attempts, and completions; Counseling victims of accidents, disasters, violent crimes, and or fires; Hospital Visitation; Prison Ministries; Nursing homes and senior citizen residence visitations or services; Assisting Law Enforcement and first responders; Participating in funerals or memorial services; Participating in Weddings; Visiting or ministering in Mental Health Facilities; Assisting with domestic disputes where families indicate a willingness to accept intervention and counseling; Assisting local pastors, and much more.

As a Chaplain, I have had the privilege to serve and work alongside many different organizations and law enforcement agencies as well as NGOs and in this case, Peace River K9 Search and Rescue. If I could just share a few thoughts about PRSAR before I continue, I was guided by the Lord through circumstances to join Peace River Search and Rescue. It all started with an oil change at the local Toyota dealership where I met a PRSAR volunteer, who through our conversation found that the SAR team needed a chaplain as their recent chaplain had moved to another area. To make a long story short, I ended up meeting our Commander and President Michael Hadsell and after meeting with the board was brought on as their chaplain. I have learned that this organization has some wonderful professional people who care about others and one another.

My Job for Peace River K9 is to walk alongside the team and those we serve or assist in whatever need is necessary. One of the thoughts and themes for the team is to "Seek and to Save those who are lost." That is not only a theme but it is biblical.

Grief can come in many different forms. What is the meaning of grief? Grief is emotional distress that is caused by perceived loss. Loss in itself can come from many forms such as loss of material goods, physical health, financial, relational, vocational, spiritual, events, etc…

For example, we can have grief from losing a loved one, but we can also have grief by losing a home, job, pet, relationship, or anything that can cause emotional distress. As Chaplains, we deal with grief and help with counseling by the ministry of presence. A ministry of presence is simply being available for those in need. It can be a listening ear, a cold bottle of water, a blanket, or what can meet the immediate need of those involved.
Dealing with grief can simply be a compassionate smile or an appropriate hug. It can be letting others know we have your back in this situation. People deal with grief in many ways, depending on their culture and or upbringing. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate every incident and individual separately. That is where wisdom and discernment are needed.

Chaplains are trained to deal with situations and individuals. They are there to help those in need, with love and compassion to help them get through their situation. We perform what you would call “emotional first aid” to get them through their personal situation.

Many people deal with stress in different ways. Many try to self-medicate by using alcohol and or drugs, but this is always a temporary fix. The true need is a spiritual relationship with God to get the resources needed to deal with what may be causing the emotional stress. However, there are times when medication is needed, or professional help is needed because of a physical need in the body. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. As a matter of fact, we encourage and point people to the proper recourses to get those in need the proper help.

If you need assistance outside of a church, or you just need an individual to talk or vent to, seek a chaplain. Many law enforcement personnel seek out chaplains because it is outside the agency, and they feel more comfortable. Anything a chaplain deals with is strictly confidential and will not be shared with anyone else except on special occasions such as an individual harming themselves. Some states require you to report some incidents depending on the state, but a chaplain will do as much as possible to keep your confidentiality between yourself and the chaplain.

It has been my privilege and passion to help those in need through chaplaincy. I personally work with several organizations to assist those in need and seek and save those who are lost, literally and or spiritually.

Chaplain Tony Ledbetter
Peace River K9 Search & Rescue Association