These criteria provide a basis for harmonization and certification of the skills of GSAR workers across Canada. This will afford a greater recognition of the skills and efforts of police agencies and GSAR volunteers across a very large and diverse country.

The National Criteria for Ground Search and Rescue are comprised of three levels: Basic, Advanced, and Management.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association has developed the following training standards based on the National Criteria for Ground Search and Rescue as set forth by the National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS):


  • Typical Search Protocols
  • Explain why a search is an emergency.
  • Outline how time, age and weather affect lost person survivability.
  • Differentiate between traditional and modern search techniques.
  • Explain the importance of clues in modern search situations.
  • Identify who is responsible for GSAR in Canada.
  • Outline the chain of command.
  • List searcher responsibilities and those of the overhead team.
  • Outline call-out procedures.
  • Outline sign-in and sign-out procedures.
  • Demonstrate how to prepare correctly for a rapid response.
  • Explain the importance of complete victim information.
  • Demonstrate the proper use of the Relative Urgency Rating.
  • Recognize how probabilities are used in planning searches.
  • Outline a typical search procedure.
  • Demonstrate the proper procedure for dealing with media and relatives.
  • Identify the two types of debriefings that can occur during search operations.
  • Identify the importance of stabilizing a search subject before evacuation.
  • Outline the process of search demobilization.
  • Outline the process of search suspension.
  • Identify the proper procedures for dealing with a deceased subject.
  • Utilize Critical Incident Stress Debriefings when needed.
  • Demonstrate appropriate human rights sensitivity and ethical conduct.
  • Outline legal rights and obligations for searchers.
  • State of the degree of protection and limitations under the Workers Compensation Act.


  • Topographic Maps and Map Reading
  • Compass and Navigation
  • Safety in the Field
  • Basic Survival and First Aid
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Radio Communications
  • Lost Person Behaviour
  • Search Techniques


  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Track Aware/Tracking I
  • Evidence Search
  • High Angle Rescue
  • Rig Rescue and Rappel Level I
  • Rig Rescue and Rappel Level II
  • Rig Rescue and Rappel Level III
  • High Angle Rescue Trainer
  • Confined Space Rescue
  • Urban SAR
  • Boat Pro
  • River Rescue Level I
  • River Rescue Level II
  • Air Spotter
  • Ice Water Rescue
  • Traffic Control and Flagging
  • Touratech QV Mapping Software
  • TC OBS Pleasure Craft Courtesy Checks
  • Canadian Coast Guard Small Craft Training
  • Avalanche Rescue


  • Search Management Philosophy, Crucials and Concepts
  • Component of an Effective SAR Program – Development and Management
  • Incident Command System (ICS)
  • SAR Mission Overview
  • First Notice
  • Initial Response
  • Search Area Identification – Principles of Establishing Search Area ana POA
  • Search Tactics – Search Methods and POD
  • Extended Operations Overview
  • Rescue/Recovery Operations
  • Stakeholders and Critical Allies
  • Mission Termination
  • Post Mission
  • Table Top Exercises

Information courtesy of the Newfoundland & Labrador Volunteer Search & Rescue Association.