In the event of a disaster, resources used to aid missing or injured people can save many lives. Rapid and effective emergency response requires communication and training. As a coordinated discipline, search and rescue relies on large disaster relief organizations, local emergency professionals (such as firemen and medics) as well as trained community first-responders. The task of relief can be emotionally traumatic for first-responders, making a strong support system important. Due to the unpredictability and urgency of emergencies, the resources and techniques necessary for effective response are often not locally available. Quickly procuring special equipment, all-terrain vehicles, aircraft, and other aids such as working dogs generates additional need for emergency relief funding.

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