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Team Units
OVERT is a new vision in volunteerism. More closely aligned with the commitment, dedication and professionalism of volunteer fire fighters then with any other program in Ontario. Our vision does not recognize community borders - an OVERT deployment may see volunteers driving hundreds of kilometers, or fly to a different country to assist a community in need.

At the heart of the OVERT program are the volunteers. For the first time, this program brings together varied members of the community and successfully integrates them with significant numbers of police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, military personnel and health care workers. The Emergency Response Volunteers of OVERT form the foundation of every deployment. Without the strong group volunteers currently serving with OVERT, the organization could not exist.

Once a request for assistance is received, OVERT is capable of responding with a diverse set of resources. These resources being the team's various units.

» Incident Command
» Ground SAR
» Canine
» Technical Rescue
» Marine
» Communications

Incident Command

During an operation our team members have many roles and responsibilities. This all has to be organized and run by our command staff. As with any other emergency agency, proper organization and deployment of resources is critical to an operation.

OVERT operations are conducted in conjunction with standard practices of emergency operations in mind. Therefore our command staff are certified in SAR management, IMS 200 and Basic Emergency Management (Province of Ontario). This allows for better interoperability with the existing emergency services operations and ensures best practices by our organization.

A professional approach to incidents is critical to a successful operation and our teams’ commitment to this is reflected in our approach to managing our operations.

The Incident Management System (IMS) is a standardized approach to emergency management encompassing personnel, facilities, equipment, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. IMS is predicated on the understanding that in any and every incident, there are certain management functions that must be carried out regardless of the number of persons who are available or involved in the emergency response. (Quote IMS 100 Emergency management Ontario).

Ground SAR

OVERT is primarily a ground search and rescue team.  Therefore all members of our team are trained in the various ground SAR techniques.  These tactics are part of our provincial certification process as a member of the provincial association (OSARVA).  Our team has also expanded upon these basic search tactics to provide our SAR managers a number of resources that can be utilized during a search operation.

Our team can be called upon to search both rural and urban environments. Both of these provide unique challenges to successfully locating a missing person. The members commit to regular training throughout the year to ensure that they are able to address any situation that they may encounter.

In addition to the search techniques used in the field the members of OVERT are trained in land navigation, lost subject behaviour, clue location and preservation and communications protocols.

The individual team member must commit to at least 60 hours per year in training in this area. All members must meet this training requirement to stay operational. Also those that work within our speciality units must first meet their main requirements in addition to the additional training.

The commitment to the safety of the members of our community is probably best observed when our GSAR personnel are in the field. They are often deployed to very difficult locations in the worse weather and perform their duties with pride and return to face the same challenges each training day and operation.


The OVERT dogs are trained to locate human scent in a variety of situations. The dogs are trained to track the path a victim may have taken or search off lead in an attempt to locate the scent in the air leading back to the victim. They are also trained to search a building or collapsed structure for a victim or will be used to find the clues or articles that the victim may have left behind.

The cadaver dog unit is a unique part of the OVERT team. Our K9 handlers and their canine partners are tasked with the location of human remains. This can be the result of numerous scenarios and in a variety of situations. These dogs are trained to locate the scent of human remains only. The dogs are exposed to all aspects of the human bodies' decomposition process and the environments that these may be located.

Click here to view our Canine Team Members including our Past and Present dogs.

Technical Rescue

OVERT has developed a technical rescue program, and is currently training members to be part of this elite team.

The technical rescue unit is among the most specialized and highly trained units deployable by OVERT. Members of OVERT’s technical rescue team are required to meet the minimum training requirements expected of all GSAR ERV’s in addition to the training requirements of the Technical Rescue Team.

The training program was developed for the teams back country response needs, and also in line with the NFPA for it's urban response requirements. Using a two rope system the rescue technicians on this team are capable of performing both cliffside, slope and building related technical rope rescues. Conducted over two weekends, with an additional day of medical training, the basic training for the our rescue program requires a significant level of commitment from each member. After the five day course is completed team members will continue to train for up to a year to become certified as OVERT Technical Rescue Technicians. Total annual training requirements for the Technical Rescue Team will be a minimum 40 hrs, following certification.

Members are trained to to a level of proficiency in slope, self rescue, pick off rescues, belay, high angle,and highline rescues.


The OVERT Volunteers that make up the Marine unit receive training above and beyond that of the teams GSAR technicians. The Marine unit members have received specialized training in the areas of marine search and rescue techniques, as well as boating safety and water survival training. All Marine unit members are coast guard certified in the operation of a motorboat. The marine unit consists of a boat crew as well as a land or safety crew.

In the case of severe flooding the Marine unit can supply both equipment and/or marine personnel to assist authorities in evacuating people. During search and rescue operations the Marine unit is responsible for searching lakes, rivers, marshes and inland waterways. For body recovery missions the Marine unit works with K9, providing that unit with a water search capability.


Our comms’ staff are responsible for the dispatch and tracking of all OVERT personnel during an event. The safety and orderly maintenance of personnel in the field is critical to a successful operation. These staff members will relay critical information between field teams and command staff.

The team remains in contact with our units via radio and the activities are tracked on a dispatch software. The comms’ staff are also responsible for the operation of the command post’s wireless computer systems. Ensuring all the team computers are operational and in communication with our server to ensure the proper completion and recording of unit activities.

They are responsible for the set up and tear down of the command post and the related equipment utilized during an OVERT operation.
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