The commitment to each trainee is long-term and there is nothing about this work or this team that is casual. Though the training and searching can be fun, each member takes this life saving responsibility with utmost seriousness and that includes selection of new members.
Once accepted as a trainee, an experienced handler will be assigned as a mentor to supervise training of the canine and handler. The mentor will write a review of the handler and canine’s progress every 6 months to recommend continuing or revoking trainee status. The trainee will be expected to meet NEK9 attendance requirements: 80% of monthly training (3rd Saturday of each month) and 60% of searches. The trainee will be required to keep a training log and document at least 16 hours of training per month.
The trainee when deemed ready by their mentor will start the observation process, the first step towards certification. 5 senior/certified handlers will observe the handler/canine and all will have to approve they are prepared for certification testing. Unless the handler or canine has previous SAR experience, the expectation is that it will take 1- 2 years to be certified.