Stepping into a group of people who all know each other and have been a team for years can be scary, I recently started a new job, finding your place in the pecking order can be daunting! That said I have now been with Search Dogs Sussex for 6 months, stepping into this team was the most unscary thing, everyone wants everyone else to succeed everyone is eager to help with anything you don't understand (Thanks Darren,) Tech is not my thing, (..and Steve and Rich,) neither is map reading!

I joined the team in September 2016 with a background in the Ambulance service of 15 years and the Fire Brigade 10 years. To see if they liked me and I liked them I had to attend a minimum of three training sessions before deciding to go forward. As my Border Collie 'Skye' is now 13 and suffering from dementia I joined as a Search Technician. In November I went on a Technician course at Hampshire Police HQ together with another of the new team members Sally. We were trained in the classroom and in the field for Misper behavior, different types of "lost " people behave in different ways, we were taught how to search, what to look for, how to keep ourselves and our team members safe whilst searching, radio procedures and many other aspects of the job. We both passed!

Sally and I both had our first aid qualification so we just had two hurdles left before becoming fully qualified search technicians, one was water safety with throw lines, which we did in December together with the rest of the team when they did their refresher. The last was Navs... Navigation, orienteering, map and compass! Anyone who knows me will know that my sense of direction isn't great, in fact its non existent!  Well, one Saturday in February Sally, myself and a couple of the other team members set off for the devils dyke to do the course, the first half was classroom work all the ground work, after lunch we set off in convoy to Bignor Hill to put into action what we had been taught. It was cold damp and windy... great for learning navs. I won't lie, I didn't find it easy but at the end of the day we all passed.

The training doesn't stop when you qualify though, our weekly training sessions, and the 'call outs' all give you something more to think about we continue to learn with every job and training session.