MASAR Conference 2021

The 2021 MASAR Conference has been indefinitely postponed - we apologize for any inconvenience.

The conference will be co-hosted by Maine Mounted Search and Rescue (MMSAR) and Maine Search and Rescue Dogs (MESARD). The registration fee is $85 for MASAR-Certified team members, $100 for anyone not affiliated with a MASAR-Certified team, $20 to licensed EMS personnel. Late registrations will be subject to a $25 late fee.


Jump to Schedule (Subject to Change w/o Notice)

Jump to Course Descriptions
Jump to Instructor Biographies
Jump to Keynote Speech Descriptions & Speaker Biographies

Printable Handout: Schedule, Course Descriptions, Instructor Bios, Map (Subject to Change w/o Notice)

If you would like to donate an item or gift certificate for our raffle or silent auction, please download our donation form here! We encourage MASAR team members and supporters to actively solicit donations from businesses they frequent, and/or businesses they work for or own.

Tentative Schedule - Subject to Change Without Notice

08:00 - Registration for BASAR Testing Opens (Dining Hall)
09:00 - BASAR Written Test & Field Skills Testing (Dining Hall)
18:00 - Conference Opens - Dinner (Dining Hall)
19:30 - Speaker: Warden Alan Curtis (Dining Hall)
20:30 - BASAR Night Navigation Skills Testing (Dining Hall)


06:00 - Conference Registration Opens (Dining Hall)
07:00 - Breakfast (Dining Hall)
08:00 - Conference Registration Closes (Dining Hall)
08:45 - Welcome Address (Dining Hall)
09:00 - Session 1 - Drugs (Dining Hall) / Injuries (Bishop) / Mantracking 1 & Clues (Innisfree) / Ticks (Upper Buck)
10:30 - Session 2 - Human Remains (Dining Hall) / Situational Awareness (Bishop) / Mantracking 2 (Innisfree) / Basic GPS (Upper Buck)
12:00 - Lunch & Group Photo (Dining Hall)
13:00 - Session 3 - Human Remains (Dining Hall)/ Injuries (Bishop) / Basic GPS (Katahdin) / Equine Air Scent Detection (Innisfree) / Rope Rescue for Non-Rescuers (Upper Buck)
14:30 - Session 4 - Search Planning (Dining Hall) / Situational Awareness (Bishop) / Scent Behavior (Innisfree) / Rope Rescue Review (Upper Buck)
16:00 - Silent Auction (Dining Hall)
17:30 - Dinner (Dining Hall)
18:45 - Critical Incident Stress Management (Dining Hall)
19:15 - Speaker: Kate Flora (Author) (Dining Hall)
21:00 - Social Time


06:00 - Fitness Test? (TBD)
07:00 - Breakfast (Dining Hall)
09:00 - Session 1
SAR Dogs (Dining Hall) / Firearms (Bishop) / SAR Animals & Drones (Innisfree) / 
Leadership (Upper Buck)
10:30 - Session 2 
Equine Air Scent Detection (Dining Hall) / Radio Comms (Bishop) / 
SAR Case Studies (Innisfree) / Ticks (Upper Buck)
12:00 - Lunch / Conference Closes



Scent Behavior - Jocelyn "Josh" Stohl (New England SAR Education & Consulting Services)
This presentation will cover the characteristics of human scent, basic meteorology, terrain and the environmental factors in consideration to the SAR field worker that will assist in decision making and support to their animal partner.


SAR Resources: Drones and Animals - Jocelyn "Josh" Stohl (New England SAR Education & Consulting Services)

This presentation will introduce participants to a general understanding of a Small Unmanned Aircraft System and its role in SAR as a beneficial addition to resources. The program will provide a brief overview of operators/pilots, federal regulations and restrictions, limitations, SAR management responsibility and risk management when operating in and around animals to include canines and horses, as well as livestock and wildlife. Examples of affects will be provided and methods for training that can assist riders and handlers to be prepared and to manage the unexpected.


SAR Case Review - Jocelyn "Josh" Stohl (New England SAR Education & Consulting Services)

This presentation will provide an overview for the process of conducting case review, when to conduct a review, who participates and the benefits. Two cases will be reviewed.

Mantracking and Clue Awareness - Jocelyn "Josh" Stohl (New England SAR Education & Consulting Services)

This program will provide participants with the basic knowledge and importance of being clue aware and looking for sign. Participants will receive an introduction to the step-by-step method of following foot track.


Basic GPS TrainingBryan Courtois (Pine Tree SAR)

Basic overview of GPS, including how they work and how to customize to make them most useful. Create and edit waypoints, customize screens to make your GPS usage more efficient. Models that will be used at example will include Delorme PN60, Garmin 60Csx, Garmin 64st, and Garmin inReach Explorer. Most Garmin models will be similar.


Search Planning, Resource Deployment Strategies, & Case Studies - Lt. Kevin Adam (Maine Warden Service)
Have you ever wondered why certain resources are placed in certain areas, and at certain times? Using real searches on which MASAR teams were deployed, Lt. Kevin Adam will walk us through the search planning process.


Recognizing and Evaluating Human Remains in the Natural Environment - Dr. Marci Sorg (Forensic Anthropologist)
Review of the progression of decompositional changes in human remains in outdoor settings in Maine, including changes in the remains themselves, the environment around them, and in clothing or other evidence associated with the remains.  Includes the basics of differentiating human from nonhuman bones and recognizing scavenger patterns.


Basic Maine Wilderness Rope Rescue System Review Steve Hudson & Melissa Shea (MDI-SAR)
In this class we will review the design, construction, and operation of the basic two rope rescue system currently used by the volunteer wilderness rope rescue teams in Maine.  We'll discuss the system's components and characteristics, and the common hardware and software.  Following that, attendees will have the opportunity to build and operate the system.


Rope Rescue for Non-Rescuers - Steve Hudson & Melissa Shea (MDI-SAR)
Search team members, including mounted team riders and dog team handlers, can be of great assistance in the event that the search subject requires rescue with ropes.  In this class we will review the equipment used in wilderness rope rescues in Maine, identify common items, explain how this equipment should be handled, and explain how attendees can safely and effectively assist with a rope rescue operation.

"Fight, Flight, or Search": How Equines' Natural Instincts Make them an Ideal Air Scent Detection Resource

Lt. Robert Norman (UMPD), Ashley Norman & Sharon Kenney (Highlands SAR)
Designed for non-riders. Through discussion and video demonstrations, learn how Equine Air Scent Detection works, how it's similar to / different from K-9 Air Scent Detection, and how it can be used in conjunction with other search resources such as search dogs, grid search teams, air assets, etc.


Firearm Safety: What to do When the Search Subject Has a Firearm - Craig Gerry (Maine IF&W)

We never know what we will come across on a search. Learn how you should respond if you see a firearm while you are searching, either in the possession of the search subject or unsecured on the ground. Understand the 3 most important safety rules of firearms, be introduced to the most common firearms actions in each category, and learn/practice how to unload and secure firearms of various types.

Leadership Styles and Group Dynamics - Bryan Courtois (PTSAR)

What are the characteristics of a great leader? What are the different types of leadership styles and group dynamics, and what are the various ways a great leader use those dynamics to motivate and encourage the team? Learn how to apply different leadership styles to interact with your group, and how the group behavior will evolve over time.

Injury Prevention and Fitness for Searchers - Joshua Bridges (Fitness Director, University of Maine Campus Recreation)

Search and Rescue is a unique physical activity that requires searchers to go over, under, and through obstacles that the average outdoor recreationalist would not consider, and do so for hours on end. Learn what you can do in your everyday life, in your fitness routine, and in your training sessions to help prepare you for the search season and prevent injury... especially as the years pass. Specifically, you will learn how to build a strong core and foundation to prevent injuries and maximize your time dedicated to health and wellness. Josh will also show common minimal-equipment methods of training to specifically improve your functional capacity and improve your search and rescue abilities. As time allows, the unique nutritional needs of SAR may be discussed.


What it Takes to Train, Certify, and Deploy a SAR Dog - Michelle Fleury (Maine SAR Dogs)
Handler training, dog training and management at home, time and equipment needed, what is a working dog, how to find a working dog, industry standards for search and rescue and other detection dogs, liability issues, and how to certify a dog through MASAR.

Situational Awareness (EMS CEHs) - Jonathan Ward (CMSAR)

Situational awareness is key to safe operations in the field. Effective situational awareness is a blend of experience, observation, discipline, and intuition. Using lessons learned from other high-risk operations, this class will explore the process of developing the skills needed to utilize this important component of risk management.

How to Communicate Like a Pro Jonathan Ward (CMSAR) 
Good radio communications can make the difference between a smooth operation and one which can compromise efficiency and even safety. This class will review radio communication basics, from technical aspects to proper radio procedure. Topics covered will include rules and regulations, agency interoperability, basic repeater theory, proper use of radio equipment, and professionalism. In addition, we will discuss the newly-licensed MASAR frequencies and policies for their proper use.  Maine EMS CEHS available for this course.

Search and Rescue Field Assessments (EMS CEHs) - Evie & Paul Marcolini (FSAR)
This program will include both didactic and practical skills.  We will discuss and practice patient assessment for the backcountry setting.  How do you determine if a patient is critically ill? How do you make evacuation decisions to optimize patient outcome while maintaining rescuer safety?  These decisions are made on every rescue, and constitute the foundation of rescue medicine. 


Respiratory Emergencies and Treatment (EMS CEHs)- Evie & Paul Marcolini (FSAR)

Through case studies, we will discuss what constitutes a respiratory emergency in the wilderness.  This course will focus on evaluation and treatment to optimize patient outcome as well as evacuation decisions to maintain rescuer safety.


First Responders & Dangerous Drugs (EMS CEHs) - Chad Carlton (Maine SAR Dogs)

This presentation is designed to provide search team members with a familiarity of some of the dangerous drugs and paraphernalia they may encounter while searching for lost persons or in their everyday lives.  The objective is to give the attendee an awareness-level education on what dangerous drugs and paraphernalia could look like in the real world along with ordinary items that take on a different context when combined with drug use.  This is a lecture and PowerPoint presentation using stories and photos of illicit drugs and dangerous drug exposure situations encountered in Maine.


How NOT to have a Tick Encounter - Paula Jackson (Mid-Coast Lyme Disease Support & Education)

Tick species found in Maine, diseases that they carry (along with symptoms), 5 simple steps for prevention, and free resources should one become exposed to a tick-borne disease.


MASAR Critical Incident Stress Management - Kylie Mack (PTSAR)
MASAR now has a CISM team of 3 individuals who have been trained by the Maine Warden Service Chaplain, Kate Braestrup, to provide optional CISM services to MASAR volunteers who have undergone search-related stress. Learn what the CISM team does and how to access those resources if you need them.


Ashley Norman has been involved with Search and Rescue since 2015 and is a founding member and President of Highlands SAR (2021). Her current equine partner, Yukon, has been with her since 2016. Ashley worked as a Penobscot County dispatcher for 6 years and now works in the railroad industry. She has been training with Yukon in Equine Scent Detection since 2016 under the tutelage of Terry Nowacki, founder of the American Equine Scenting Association in Minnesota. Ashley will co-teach a course that introduces the concept of using horses’ sense of smell to locate lost individuals.

Bryan Courtois is the President Pine Tree Search and Rescue, Education Director/Board Member MASAR, MASAR certified Search Team Leader, Registered Maine Guide, Board Member Maine Wilderness Guides Organization, Eagle Scout + Scout leader for 25 years, Life Member Maine Appalachian Trail Club, Past Maine Chapter Appalachian Mountain Club Trip Leader, Past AMC/ADK Winter Mountaineering School instructor, Past AMC Mountain Leadership School instructor. Credited co-author of Master Guide Handbook – Outdoor Adventure Trips Bryan will be teaching a course in Basic GPS and another on Leadership and Group Dynamics.


Chad Carleton has been a K9 Handler with Maine Search and Rescue Dogs since 2016 and has a 6-year-old Dutch Shepherd named Jenga.  Chad has worked for the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department since 2004 and has been assigned to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for the past 12 years.  During that time, Chad has had the opportunity to investigate hundreds of drug trafficking cases that involved a variety of illicit drugs. Chad will be teaching a course in Dangerous Drugs & Other Hazards.


Gary Drinkwater, Registered Maine Guide, IF&W Hunter Safety Instructor [31 years], WCSAR member [24 years] and other members of Waldo County SAR who instruct hunter safety. Gary will teach a course in safe handling of firearms that may be encountered on a search.


Jocelyn “Josh” Stohl is a retired Vermont state police commander with over 35 years of search and rescue experience. She is a consultant and an educator in SAR management and selected SAR skills. Ms. Stohl is a certified air-scenting K9 handler and a trained UAV (drone) pilot. Josh will be teaching multiple courses.


Jonathan Ward is a Firefighter and EMT with over 25 years of experience in emergency services. He holds flight instructor and fire instructor credentials and enjoys creating training programs which integrate his various areas of interest. In his Camden-based clinical counseling practice, he specializes in working with trauma survivors as well as emergency responders. Jonathan is a founding member of Coastal Mountain SAR and volunteers with the Lincolnville Fire Department. Jonathan will be teaching courses in Situational Awareness and Effective Radio Communications.

Sgt. Josh Bubier has been with the Maine Warden Service since 2008 and has been involved in the Incident Management Team since 2009.  Josh has worked within the Operations Section, Planning Section and has assisted with the investigative side of searches as his role as an investigator with the Maine Warden Service prior to being promoted to Sergeant in 2020.  Josh took over as the Statewide SAR Coordinator in April of 2020 when Lt. Kevin Adam retired.  Prior to working for the Warden Service Josh worked in several different capacities within the Forestry sector, both private and public.  He currently supervises Section 6 which covers Waldo, Lincoln, Knox and Sagadahoc counties. Josh will teach a course in Search Planning.


Joshua Bridges has a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science from Colorado State University and has a wide range of work experience from managing personal training studios and CrossFit gyms to serving as the Fitness Director at Ohio University and University of Maine. He has numerous certifications, most notably including Certified Strength and Condition Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting and Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) through Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Josh will be teaching a course in Injury Prevention & Fitness for Searchers.


Marcella H. Sorg, Research Professor at the University of Maine, serves as forensic anthropologist for the Offices of the Chief Medical Examiner in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. She received her Ph.D. in physical anthropology from The Ohio State University in 1979 and was certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology in 1983. Dr. Sorg has authored and co-edited a number of books and articles on forensic anthropology and taphonomy. Her current research focuses on taphonomic approaches to remains exposed in outdoor scenes, and the estimation of postmortem interval. Marcella will be teaching a course about human remains recognition and evaluation.


Melissa Shea has been climbing and mountaineering most of her life. Her travels have taken her to Alaska, the Alps, Kilimanjaro, and the Himalayas. She volunteers with Franklin Search and Rescue and Maine SAR Dogs in addition to serving on the Boards for FSAR and MASAR. She is also the Rope Rescue Team Leader for FSAR and a Registered Maine Guide. Melissa will will co-teach two courses about rope rescue.


Michele Fleury has been a certified search and rescue canine handler with Maine Search and Rescue Dogs (MESARD) since 1992 and a certified search team member through the Maine Association for Search and Rescue (MASAR) since 1997.   She served as MESARD team President from 2004-2010, Training Director from 2012-2015, and has been a member of the MESARD Training Committee since 2004.  She is a past member of the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) and certified through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as a law enforcement canine handler as a Deputy with the Maine Warden Service.  She is a past Executive Board Member and current SAR Instructor with the International Police Work Dog Association (IPWDA).  She has trained, certified and handled 6 canines and deployed in searches in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, South Carolina and New Brunswick, Canada. Michele will teach a course about what it takes to train, certify, and deploy a SAR Dog.


Paula Jackson Jones, President and Co-Founder: Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education, 2018 Co-Chair of Access to Care Services and Patient Support subcommittee of the HHS Federal Tick-borne Disease Working Group, Member of Maine CDC Vector-Borne Workgroup, Active in Maine’s Lyme Legislation movement. Paula will be teaching a course about Tick Prevention.

Lt Robert “Bob” Norman, Training & Development Manager at the University of Maine Police Department, has had a 45-year career in emergency services (Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS), as well as Incident Management. Bob was a Law Enforcement K-9 handler for 10 years and had two different K-9 partners in that time, both of whom were trained to search for both people and evidence. In addition, Bob has participated in the training of multiple K-9 teams in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In 2016, Bob was introduced to Terry Nowacki during Terry’s first visit to Maine and was an instant believer. Bob then served as an assistant during Terry’s next two equine scent detection training clinics in Maine. In fact, since 2016, Bob has assisted with multiple mounted air scent trainings in the roles of observer, hider, and unofficial coach. His experiences both with K-9 air scent training, and as a horse owner himself, have helped him become a valuable resource to the mounted teams who are training in Equine Air Scent Detection. Bob will co-teach a course that introduces the concept of using horses’ sense of smell to locate lost individuals.


Sharon Kenney has been involved with Search and Rescue since 2007 and is the current MASAR President as well as a founding member of Highlands SAR (2021). Her first equine partner, Zephyr, retired from SAR in 2015. Sharon has been training in Equine Scent Detection since 2016 with her new equine partner, Kodak, under the tutelage of Terry Nowacki, founder of the American Equine Scenting Association in Minnesota. Sharon will co-teach a course that introduces the concept of using horses’ sense of smell to locate lost individuals.


Steve Hudson, current MASAR Vice President, learned rope work and rock climbing in college. When he moved to Southwest Harbor in 1987, he joined Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue to put those skills to work to help others.  He has been an active member since then as vice-president, president, treasurer, and a wilderness rope rescue instructor. He has been very active in developing MDISAR’s wilderness rescue capabilities, promoting the implementation of modern rope rescue techniques, and seeking outside instruction in rope rescue methods.  When possible, he takes part in wilderness rescue missions throughout the state of Maine. Steve will co-teach two courses about rope rescue.


Friday: Warden Alan Curtis is known for his humor.  He will talk about how he became a Game Warden, Some warden and Conservation K-9 war stories, and his experiences with North Woods Law.  As anyone who works in law enforcement knows, to quote the retired Penobscot County Sheriff Glen Ross, “Law Enforcement is a front row seat at the Greatest Show on Earth.”

Biography: Warden Curtis was born and raised in Machias and wanted to be a warden at a young age.  After graduating high school, he spent two summers fighting forest fires out west. He then worked at the Machias Fire Department, went to college and earned an Associate degree in Conservation Law Enforcement.  He then worked at the Machias Police Department for 2.5 years before he was hired as a Maine Game Warden in 2006. He has worked in Kennebunk, Newport, Topsfield and currently is stationed in Wesley. He lives in Wesley with his wife, Ashley, and 3 daughters.

Saturday: Kate Flora, Award-winning Maine mystery & crime author of 21 books, will give a keynote speech titled: 
"Telling the World What We Do: A Journey Behind the Headlines or Not Just Hobbyists Walking in the Woods: The Realities of Search and Rescue".

Description: Most people hear of SAR through brief news stories, and have no idea what goes into a rescue operation. Not of the training, not of the physical demands, and not of the joys when a rescue is successful or the sorrow when the subject isn't found alive. Kate Braestrup once jokingly referred to MESARD as "those middle-aged hobbyists with their dogs." But you know better. Part of my writing journey has been to tag along and see what your work is really like, collect stories rescue operations, and then share that with readers as naive as myself.


Biography: Flora’s fascination with people’s criminal tendencies began in the Maine attorney general’s office dealing with deadbeat dads, abused kids, and employers’ discrimination. The author of 21 books, Flora’s been a finalist for the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Derringer awards and won the Public Safety Writers Association award for nonfiction and the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction. She writes the Thea Kozak amateur detective series and the Joe Burgess police procedural series, as well as nonfiction with public safety personnel. Her nonfiction includes Finding Amy, written with Portland Deputy Chief Joseph K. Loughlin; Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice; A Good Man with a Dog: A Warden’s 25 Years in the Maine Woods, Roger Guay’s memoir; and Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconception and Myths about Police Shootings with Joseph K. Loughlin.

This conference is funded in part by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, in which proceeds from the sale of a dedicated instant lottery ticket, currently Wild Winners, are used to support outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. If you are a scratch ticket buyer, please consider purchasing Wild Winners to support this program!