Search and Rescue Fields

The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, typically determined by the type of terrain the search is conducted over. HRT Attica is organized and trained to react in:

  • Wilderness Search and Rescue (mountains, forests, non -urban areas)
  • Water Search and Rescue (open sea, coast-line, rivers, lakes, floods)
  • Urban Search and Rescue Assistance (earthquakes, floods, tsunamis)

Wilderness SAR

Greece is well known for its sea and its beautiful islands, however most of our landscape (mainland and islands) is covered by steep mountains, forests, canyons and caves that can provide great excitement, but also pose many risks that may end up in an accident and even worse in the loss of a human life. In these instances the most critical element is the response time of a properly trained rescue team.

HRT Attica formed a Search and Rescue sub-team for all Wilderness incidents, that is manned with experienced mountain guides, climbers, hikers, 4x4 drivers and support members, all volunteers with the same objective – to help save a life. Predominantly challenging is the "vertical" field requiring technical climbing techniques and special rescue equipment, on which team members should be well trained and experienced to perform the rescue under all conditions.

Water SAR

HRT Attica formed another Search and Rescue sub-team for all incidents related with water: in the sea, in inland lakes, rivers and floods. Staffed with experienced scuba divers, lifeguards, speed craft pilots, sailors, whitewater guides and support members, all volunteers having the same objective – to help save a life. We communicate, co-operate and work closely with the port authorities and the Air Force conducting joint trainings and exercises to maintain a high level of operation. Our team members have excellent scientific and technical training, and act on voluntary consciousness. All team members, after intensive training, can be involved in coastline research, and water surface search, by foot or on boat. Experienced divers can contribute in the subsurface research, by using scuba equipment and ROVs.

Urban SAR

Our third sub-team specializes in Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) that involves the location, extrication, and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces due to natural disasters, structural collapse, transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches. No matter how well we are prepared for a natural disaster in most of the cases victims require help from the SAR teams. In a disaster situation, the goal of a SAR operation is to rescue the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time, while minimizing the risk to the rescuers.

HRT Attica has developed a training program both theoretical and practical, based on the international accepted INSARAG and FEMA guidelines and manuals. We always try to involve and receive assistance in our training courses from related field professionals: fire services, construction and demolition engineers and technicians, civil and structural engineers.

HRT Attica is associated to the General Secretariat Civil Protection (GSCP) and coordinated with the Hellenic firefighting services. A friendly cooperation bond has been built since 2008 between our neighboring country Turkey SAR team from Istanbul (AKUT) and ours (HRTA). There have been three common exercises and continuous information sharing between our teams.

Although we are a volunteer team our GOAL is to be capable to assist communities during a natural disaster as a mid-size USAR team, according to the INSARAG. To perform something like this, besides human resources training, a lot of specialized equipment and tools are needed to get trained on and be prepared to operate during the disaster, and to achieve our objective – to help save a life.  

Meanwhile, our team during the last years gets more and more involved with the humanitarian mission to help natural disaster victims and financially challenged people that need all the available help for the necessary goods to survive.

Search and Rescue Dogs

During all these years of community services, some of our volunteer members developed internally the use of their pet dogs in search and rescue (SAR) operations. It is a valuable component in wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and in locating missing people. Dedicated handlers and well-trained dogs are required for dogs to be effective in search efforts. Search and rescue dogs are typically handled by a small team on foot. HRT Attica has eight level-III SAR dogs and handlers plus 6 more getting trained, all certified by International judge yearly.

Search and rescue dogs have an incredible ability to detect human scent in most environments. Although the exact processes are still researched, it may include skin rafts (scent-carrying skin cells that drop off living humans at a rate of about 40,000 cells per minute), evaporated perspiration, respiratory gases, or decomposition gases released by bacterial action on human skin or tissues. These dogs are able to follow or trail an individual through a city for hours or sometimes days after the person went missing. These dogs must ignore the scent of hundreds of other people, other animals, car exhaust, restaurants and those pesky neighborhood cats! What makes it possible is the exhaustive training and the communication between the dog and handler. These are lifesaving resources!

From their training and experience, search and rescue dogs can be classified broadly as either Airscenting dogs or Trailing (and tracking) dogs. They also can be classified according to whether they scent discriminate, and under what conditions they can work. Scent discriminating dogs have proven their ability to alert only on the scent of an individual person, after being given a sample of that person's scent. Non-scent discriminating dogs alert on or follow any scent of a given type, such as any human scent or any cadaver scent. SAR dogs can be trained specifically for rubble searches, for water searches, and for avalanche searches. HRT Attica cross train our dogs in both trailing and airscenting and use them as scent specific "area searches". Typically these dogs work in an area that an airscent dog would work, but are capable of ignoring other search teams and other people in or near the assigned search area. When deployed this way, these airscenting dogs require a scent article as does a trailing dog.
Search dog teams are a proven lifesaving resource.
A dog's nose can do what no other resource can:

  • Find a child lost in the wilderness or missing from their homes.
  • Follow a patient with Alzheimer's missing from a nursing home.
  • Locate a skier buried in an avalanche.
  • Find live people trapped in collapsed buildings.

First Aid

Being able to provide First Aid is the most important skill for every person that wants to help and care for others who become ill or injured far from definitive medical care. All HRT Attica members/rescuers attend mandatory certified Basic Life Support training courses, by American Heart Association or Emergency First Response and keep it valid with re-certifications.

All these years participating in incidents, we found the necessity to prepare for the unexpected and be capable to offer even more medical help in the isolated wilderness than the basics. To succeed the above and always stay in operation we have created collaborations with more advanced first aid programs like: Wilderness Advanced First Aid® by American Safety and Health Institute, or Casualty Care in Mountain Rescue by BASICS, and Pre Hospital Trauma Life Support - PHTLS® - National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. Training and receiving certification with any of the above programs among with the all year around; hands-on training realistic scenarios designed to challenge, integrate and develop our knowledge, skills and ability to make sound decisions in emergency situations during wilderness and or earthquake incidents.


The telecommunication requirements of Search and Rescue teams most of the times are staffed by licensed radio amateurs members of our team, who offer their services individually, voluntarily and selflessly to provide telecommunications coverage in emergency situations, either in the field within the SAR teams, or with the directly affected persons by this disaster.

Scope of work for the telecommunications team is:

The transmission of emergency messages via radio (voice or digital)
b) The telecommunications service interface between the Search and Rescue Teams  involved in the incident.
  c) The development of telecommunications networks for rapid intelligence and reliable coordination among different teams in the field
Γενική Γραμματεία Πολιτικής Προστασίας
International Maritime Rescue Federation


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