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  Southern Technical Aquatic Resource & Rescue


Bringing knowledge, skills, techniques, and a "can do safely" attitude to our style of teaching. We do not want to just teach skills, but teach why individuals would do these skills. Keeping every student intrigued, engaged, and personally involved in every aspect of the course. The instructors at STARR are all active, have experience in, and are certified Fire/EMS instructors with in the water rescue profession. Many have of our instructors either have been involved or are currently involved with the military, fire, law enforcement, EMT/Paramedics, SWAT, or instructors at higher learning institutions.

STARR began in 2011 based in Carriere, Mississippi as an LLC to provide water rescue services to the community in which we reside. However, over the years, we begin to see problems nationwide with training outlets so we began to expand our services. Soon after we dissolved the LLC and Incorporated to become a 501c3 non-profit organization to provide not only training, equipment, but also a force multiplier to other agencies during water related incidents. 

Keith Thomas and Don Mieger, the founders, began as fire fighters and EMT's in South Mississippi in 1994. Eventually, they both moved up the fire department ranks and both became Paramedics. Late in 2015, after receiving several degrees, Keith began working with other higher learning institutions through research to design and develop a water rescue program that would encompass swift water/flood rescue, rescue swimmer, and boat rescue operations along with a few other specialized courses. More information concerning Don and Keith can be found on the Management Staff page.

Since a large percentage of our clients and customers are in the field (boots on the ground), our water rescue program works to meet industry and NFPA standards as the core curriculum standard. All of our water rescue courses either meet or exceed NFPA standards at various levels of training. The other courses taught at STARR meet a variety of other standards set by the organization over their development such as American Heart Association and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. 

STARR is always improving upon our existing water rescue program; making sure we are up to date with current industry and NFPA standards within the water rescue profession. We ensure our methods and skills taught balance with the best safety tactics and effectiveness. In addition, we encourage our instructors using our curriculum to make the course interesting and material easy to understand. 

Of course, we are constantly working to add new courses to our cadre along with new training techniques, skills, and knowledge for our instructor cadre. Our advisory board, with our highly educated curriculum developers, do extensive research, training, and testing during the implementation of our courses. We also greatly encourage valued feedback from our instructors, students, and course monitors. This is to hopefully improve and offer the highest quality that we are capable of and much of that requires constant knowledge of what areas need to be improved upon.

"Instructors can only provide the training and information. It is up to the student to grasp the knowledge to master the skills."

Our staff make every effort to, and whatever we can do to help ensure individuals or teams master these skills.

We can save more lives through the teachings of our students than we can by ourselves. As our Instructors give the the highest quality training possible, the greater the likelihood of a successful rescue with minimal chances of injuries or death to victims and rescuers. We strive on every level to engage our students and get each one personally invested in their training and knowledge retention.

STARR focus is on saving lives, not on the money. While the business is OUR livelihood, for our staff, this is also a lifelong passion and our chance to make a positive contribution to the community, state, and nation. STARR continues to acquire but also keeps our clients through the quality of our training and instructors, by word of mouth from one agency to the next, rather than quantity. We want our character and training programs to speak for us.

While our primary clientele are 1st Responders from Fire and Police fields, we also have a great number of Military, Volunteer rescue teams, State or National government organizations both from within the US and other countries, and the occasional independent student interested in learning and becoming involved. Thus, the job requirements, rules or laws to work within, terrain, types of natural (or other) disasters, gear & equipment, team set ups and size, and other defining factors will be different for many of our clients. We have a core curriculum based upon our 1st responder clients, but pride ourselves upon our instructor’s abilities to customize and adjust parts of the training to fit the needs of the clients. After all, we the instructors are not the ones who will succeed or fail, be injured or not, out in the field. So we want to make sure at all times that our training will both suit what you need it for and that you are able to mutual aid with any other group we’ve trained and work together towards more lives saved.

We are by no means the only training provider out there. While we believe our quality of training is unparalleled; like ourselves, our competitors have some pluses and minuses to their name. We respect their training and curriculum and accept their training when students wish to audit or upgrade. There are always going to be some differences, but we all seek to improve, follow NFPA and other guiding organizations, and have core skills that are alike or easy to mesh when working with agencies trained by the other providers. 

There are other providers in each rescue field that are also becoming more well known. However, we do not accept many of their training curriculum when seeking to audit or upgrade in one of our courses often due to the differences in quality, safety, skills, organization of content, or realism of training. But you are always welcome and encouraged to look at your options prior to choosing what provider and curriculum your agency or department wants to model their rescue teams based on. Some water rescue training organizations do offer prefabbed training sites which can be made available in almost any weather and time of year. This may also afford ability to add techniques and training opportunities that are not available or allowed in rivers or lakes.

At STARR we do not believe there is only “One Way” to conduct a rescue, we do not claim to be the “One Right” training provider. Talk to other associated departments or agencies and get their input and satisfaction (or not), look at online photos and videos from prior courses, contact providers to determine schedule availability, cost, class size, techniques and curriculum, training sites, and other benefits to determine which providers, instructors, and courses are right for your needs.

Please, contact us and let us know what we can do to be of assistance to your agency or yourself, info needed on team setups, SOPs/SOGs (we can help set these up based on our experience and SME), gear, course or in-house training, problem-solving, what-if scenarios, real time rescues, or hindsight feedback. We want to make a positive contribution to the world more than we want to make money, so we will always be glad to provide assistance and will not seek payment for providing help outside of courses.