Well, it’s that time of year. We all make New Year’s resolutions and hope to make at least a couple of them ongoing habits. A couple of my personal resolutions this year are going to revolve around Search and Rescue, and generally relate to safety.
- I’m going to start wearing a helmet when I search, even on training if I’m alone in the brush. On most searches handlers are accompanied by a support person but in training we’re frequently short-handed and alone. Why a helmet? Because Ruger doesn’t have thumbs. If I fall and crack my head, he can’t key the radio microphone to call for help. (It’s good thing Ruger doesn’t have thumbs. If he did, he’d be able to drive the truck and wouldn’t even take me on searches.)
- I’m also going to incorporate a heart rate monitor into my SAR work. Nobody thinks twice about using an HRM when they’re actually out for a run. But SAR training isn’t about only the dog. Keeping my heart rate in the aerobic zone will improve my conditioning and might alert me to the need for hydration or nutrition. On a search, I expect my HRM to let me know if the “rush” of a real search has caused me to go out too fast. If excitement causes me to get fatigued after an hour, then I’m not as valuable to the search. If I pace myself better, I can go longer and hopefully get a better outcome.
OK, check with me in March and see if I’m keeping these. Feel free to ping me on Facebook and hold me accountable. Actually, I’ll be grateful for the pressure.
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