DreamTeam Operational Competency Standards

We have been working hard on DreamTeam standards for over a year and really intense from September 2020 (Area) and November (Rubble).

The Aim is to implement a competency dog standard which is specifically operationally orientated, which can be owned, implemented, managed and maintained at a local level for all regions of the world.

Team: Borut Modic, Chris Pritchard, Sava Zibler

DreamTeam Operational Competency Standards (OCS) – EXTRACT



  • Aim of the Operational Competency Standard (OCS)
  • Objectives of the Operational Competency Standard (OCS)
  • Overview (including Collapsed and Partial Collapsed Structures, Immediate Area Search (IAS))
  • Format / programme of the event (including Prerequisites, Roles and Responsibilities, Participation Members, OCS Team Members)
  • Requirements for the Operational Competency Standard (OCS) (including Types of Operational Searches, Alerts / Indications, Requirements for the successful completion)
  • Requirements for OCS Search Areas (including Victim and hide locations, Distractions, Documentation for Search Area, Classifier Notes)
  • Appendix
    • Appendix A – Types of Building Collapse
    • Appendix B – Definition of an Immediate Area
    • Appendix C – Field Operational Guide (FOG)
    • Appendix D – INSARAG Guidelines
    • Appendix E – Reporting an Unsafe Situation
    • Appendix F – Victims and hide locations
    • Appendix G – Full list of the scoring criteria
    • Appendix H – Personal Equipment (PE) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Objectives of the Operational Competency Standard (OCS) – extract

  • Designed on and for actual operational requirements for a USAR dog team
  • Designed to be manageable within the constraints of an organisation/team
  • Financially and logistically achievable to implement, manage and maintain
  • Demonstrates a sensible level of competency that is not gold plated
  • Has a classifier / assessor process that is objective and transparent and builds knowledge and experience at a local level
  • Build in level of flexibility for specific search areas – based on local risk profiles
  • Has a scoring system which is based on operational procedures and has a generic and consistent scoring system, which allows feedback both in written and oral format

Requirements for the Operational Competency Standard (OCS)

This will consist of 5 search areas to be completed over a period of 24hrs – encompassing the search areas as defined below.

These will consist of a mixture of Immediate Areas, Collapsed and Partial collapsed structures, including search areas that are designed for team specific risk profiles. Examples are mud and landslides.

  • 1 x day search
  • 1 x night search
  • 1 x simultaneous search, composing of 3 search areas – day search

Allocated time for each search scenario:

  • Total time allowed for a single search operation will be max 45 mins
  • Total time for multiple search areas max 1hr 25 mins

Guidance and Supporting Information

  • This will take the format of a formal debriefing process. With refer to the briefing / debriefing notes. / Field Operational Guide (FOG) and
  • INSARAG Guidelines – INSARAG.org

Additional question and answer session for dog handlers

This will take the format of a question and answer session, which will take place at some point within the 24hr period of the event.

Teams will be questioned on the INSARAG guideline / system on the following topics:

  • Sectorisation
  • Marking system
  • Types of building collapse.

Requirements for OCS Search Areas

The OCS search areas will consist in having the following elements built into the 5 search areas.

  • These areas will vary in size due to the different environmental and geographical layouts available for the OCS event. Instead of using a specific size, it will be based on experience personnel making an informed decision on the time required to run the search scenarios.
  • Dog handlers will have different types of restrictions placed on them during the event, to allow the classification team to observe the following type of searches to take place.
    • Full access search
    • Limited access search
    • No Access

Restricted areas will be denoted with tape and marked up as per the INSARAG guidelines.

  • These restrictions will assist the classifiers to observe some of the team’s attributes as illustrated below:
    • Working at distance
    • Directability and control
    • Independence
    • Working at different heights above and below ground level
    • Agility and ability to negotiate the search environment safety and effectively
      • Confined space searching
      • Darkened search areas
      • Distractions of different types
    • During the event an emergency stop will be asked to be demonstrated by the dog handler with his dog at one of the search areas

Documentation for each Search Area

  • Risk assessments
  • Site Plan with photos
  • Scenarios for briefing teams
  • Classifiers briefing pack – highlighting the requirements for each particular search area and hide locations.
  • Health and Safety pack, containing emergency numbers, procedures and all other associated requirement pertaining to the event
  • Radio and mobile phone communications to be available

Prerequisites for attending the Operational Competency Standard

All candidates require to hold either or both a national or organisational certification for rubble search and rescue dog operations with the purpose of Urban Search and Rescue Operations.

Teams need to be able to demonstrate the level of competency to take the DreamTeam Operational Competency Standard of 5 intensive searches over a period of 24hrs.

Additional evidence will be required in the following areas:

  • Familiarisation of of Urban Search and Rescue Operations
  • Comprehensive understanding of of Urban Search and Rescue Operations dog
  • Briefing and debriefing of Urban Search and Rescue Operations to Manager / Team Leader
  • Familiarisation and understanding of the INSARAG guidelines
  • Familiarisation of search management
  • Familiarisation and use of radio communications
  • Practical understanding of basic rope work (self-safety)
  • Practical and theoretical training in veterinary first aid
  • Practical and theoretical training in human first aid
  • All dogs to have annual vaccinations pertaining to their home country standards

Every dog handler has to sign the statement:

  • Dog handler attends the OCS on his own risk and is responsible for any damage done by himself or his dog, either to people, dogs or infrastructure.
  • Dog handler has to take care of the equivalent insurance for himself and his dog.
  • Dog handler has to ensure that his dog is not aggressive to other dogs or people (physical bite)

Every search dog team is obliged to bring one helper, who will act as victim, to the OCS.

Requirements for the successful completion of Operational Competency Standard (OCS)

  • The total number of victims is the same for all search dog teams, but the number for each search time can vary
    • There are 0 – 5 victims on each search area
    • There are 6 – 12 victims in total
  • To be successful the search dog team must achieve
    • At least 75% of total number of victims found


  • At least 75% of total points from the score sheets. The scoring methodology is based on Operational Capability, where the weight of individual evaluated areas is as follows:
    • Briefing 10% / 100%
    • Execution/performance of (dog handler, dog and as team) 50% / 100%
    • Debriefing 10% / 100%
    • Victims / alerts 30% / 100%

A maximum of 1 false alert is allowed during all 5 searches.



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