Over the last couple of years there has been a lot of misinformation, misdirection, twisted information, and at times false data to support the claims of another organization(s) in order to solidify and justify their superiority in specific professional area. Our goal at STARR has always been to provide students, organizations, agencies, and departments with the highest quality training materials and best qualified / certified instructors to positively impact saving lives within the community. STARR has and will continue to do this through highly professional staff, outstanding customer services, providing the best available equipment, while maintaining an unrefutable ethical and morals status. Unfortunately, there has to be some issues "DEBUNKED" for clarity to decrease misdirection with twisted information, below is just a few issues brought to our attention:
1. What qualifications do the instructors have?
Each of our instructors have been certified as instructors either through American Heart Association, NAEMT, Certified State Instructors, or Certified Fire / EMS Instructors. They have not only taken the provider course, taken an instructor course, but also vetted, and monitored annually. We do not allow our instructor candidates to become instructors with only a class or two, we insure they are well trained and have real-world experience in the area of expertise. More than 1/2 of our instructors were initially trained by "Jim Segerstrom" the founding father of water rescue.
2. How does STARR continue to raise the bar in training, to ensure the training is ever improving?
STARR executive staff works hard each year to research information, new training techniques, new equipment, and to refute past practices. All educational manuals and materials are updated every 4 to 5 years, with most information provided once it is released. This information comes from a variety of sources to include water rescue organizations, national associations and organizations, and international organizations or agencies. We believe in providing the highest quality of educational materials for our clients, customers, and students.
3. What makes STARR instructors different?
Each instructor, in their respective area of expertise, maintains a high level of physicality, continues to obtain training through outside sources, and strives to promote the best that professional field has to offer. The instructors just doesn't go to any class and announce they are an instructor, but rather go to the class as any other student to learn. Whether it is a medical course, water rescue course, FEMA course, or DOD course we strive to bring back the best to pass along to our students.
Many of our instructors posses higher learning degrees, the highest level of IFSAC Fire Instructor rating, or has instructor certifications from other governmental agencies. STARR over the last several years has been working with an organization to improve water rescue training through the efforts of having the program accredited by a credentialing agency (this is costly approx. $10,000.00). Some will say these types of credentials and degrees do not mean anything, but this is coming from those who can not or will not gain true meaningful education to raise the bar of their training. Our instructors strive to always do more for their students.
4. What is STARR's Safety Record?
Everyone at STARR strongly believes in providing the safest and best training possible. None of instructors will ever place students in harms way, nor suggest anything that they themselves will not do. Since being established as a Training Center, STARR has NO accidents to report. We have moved training venues because of the dangers that may or do exist in that particular area. STARR uses the PAM to ensure the number of instructors or safety personnel to student ratio in order to make sure every student is safe. When it comes to water rescue our instructor:student ratio is from 1:6 or 1:4 depending on which class. Of course, there is the occasional scratch on the leg or arm but nothing that requires anything other than basic first aid. We do not push the issue when it comes to safety, training is not where accidents need to happen but rather instill the practice of ensuring the possible outcome when conducting a risk vs benefits analysis. STARR developed a Program Administration Manual (PAM) which states the student to instructor ratio that must be adhered to when teaching courses.
Because of STARR's increased safety practices, we have not taught any classes at the Weir (Wilson's Slough) in more than 3 years. Contrary to the misillusions of others, our organization has seen the potential dangers and before someone does get injured has stopped training in that area. None of our students have ever been trapped, pinned, or injured primarily or secondary to the dangerous sheet piling metal. No student has broken any bones or sustained any type of laceration. Ironically our safety record indicates NO LOSS WORK TIME for ANY STUDENT.
5. How legitimate is STARR as a business?
STARR is listed with the Mississippi Secretary of State as "Southern Technical Aquatic Resource & Rescue, Inc". If you look on the Mississippi SoS site, STARR is listed as an LLC which was changed years ago (to an Inc) and shows dissolved. We are a certified and verified by 501c3, non-profit organization by the IRS which can be confirmed through a creditable agent or the IRS. We file all the necessary documentation required by the IRS through our tax agent, Pigott Accounting in Picayune. Since we are a small business the IRS does not publish our status on the website, because they do not have the resources to ensure every small non-profit business is published on that site.
STARR has worked hard to maintain our 501c3, our status with the Mississippi SoS, but also has went one step further to show transparency of the company. For years STARR had a Bronze status with GuideStar, which is a company that connects and ensures the quality of non-profit organizations. In 2021, we raised the bar at GuideStar.org and received a Silver status but since we are a very small non-profit organization we are not listed on the IRS website so GuideStar out of a sense of concern indicated to further verify our non-profit status as it may be revoke. WE GUARENTEE the 501c3 is not revoked.
6. Has STARR or your employees worked in the movie production area?
Many of our employees have worked within the movie and production arena. Some have worked only a few days on each film, while others have worked in a multitude of areas within a production. Our employees were used in a variety of ways from providing safety and first aid on a construction set, to taking care of the medical needs of cast members on the screen set, to providing safety for stunts and water rescue resources for those filming near any type of water. For the most part, our employees were asked never to take pictures of the movies set worked on so the only proof of work on this productions is the pay stubs received. Also, to be on the production credits is completely up to the production staff and is usually reserved for the individual who received the contract to provide the resources. This is not our full time employment, but rather part time work for some of our employees when they are not being used within a class.
7. Does STARR employee anyone with a felony record?
Our staff at STARR are vetted for any type of criminal activities as this would affect many of our credentials. Nevertheless, as our company attorney has stated, anyone with $50.00 can go to the court house and file charges. This does not mean they are guilty, but rather that someone feels they have been offended legally by an incident or action. Has any of our employees gone to court? Yes. However, none have been charged with a crime or have a criminal record with can be obtained through public records. Additionally, STARR has not engaged in any legal action towards an employee, ex-employee, or with any other organization. We feel our actions, ethics, morals, and reputation speaks for itself.
8. Has any Instructor had their Instructor Status revoked?
It has been rumored that certain STARR Instructors had their instructor status revoked. This rumor is false. Although there seems to be a letter from an organization revoking the instructors status, it would seem this letter was created through copying and pasting information such as a letter head from an organization. The letter appears to obtained by only one individual who was asked to leave the organization after some investigation was done. The letter states the organization revoked the certain individuals instructor status due to leaving the organization. However, leaving an organization does not affect the knowledge, skills, or experience of the instructor. All of our instructors are validated instructors per their respective skill sets, i.e. American Heart Association or the National Fire Protection Association. Therefore, to teach water rescue they have completed the STARR Instructor Candidate program and are at least a Fire / EMS Instructor Level I.
9. Did STARR plagiarize any of the courses taught? Where did the curriculum come from?
STARR has at no time plagiarized any of its training materials. All of our materials have been researched, validated, and tested either in real-world actions or practical application. There are many water rescue manuals available from Rescue 3 International to the Department of Defense Military Affairs. Our advisory board reviews all the manuals compiled for completeness and ensuring they conform to the NFPA standards. The rescue boat course was created after our group worked closely with individuals of the Pennsylvania Wildlife and Fisheries Department, who at the time had the ONLY rescue boat course available (2006). The information obtained through this collaboration effort allowed STARR to design and develop a curriculum that has been used and update over the last few years. This is no different than what other organizations such as the American Red Cross does with their CPR courses which are researched, validated, and tested by the American Heart Association. Most all of our training manuals are copyrighted which means their is no plagiarism.
Remember: Plagiarize is defined as to steal and pass of as on's own words without crediting the source.
10. Where did STARR obtain the equipment used in water rescue?
STARR obtained most of the initial equipment used through a donation from a local organization. This organization years ago received grant money to develop and implement a volunteer water rescue program. However, over the years the program declined and finally ceased to exist. Instead of allowing the equipment to go to waste, the organization donated the equipment to STARR. Since then, STARR has built upon those basic needs and continued to increase the cache to enhance training of our students. STARR makes every attempt to have the newest and best equipment to use in our classes which helps raise the bar on the training of individuals. All equipment purchased or donated have been properly documented and accounted for to ensure moral and ethical compliances.
11. Is your training up-to-date? How do you keep it up-to-date?
STARR promotes their instructors to seek courses outside of what the company teaches. STARR actually provides financial assistance to each instructor who takes courses outside of STARR to enhance personnel education and knowledge. When our instructors take courses, they go strictly as a student not as an instructor because they are their to learn not intimidate. They are not their to break records, make the high score, or prove their superiority, but rather to gain knowledge and skills that will enhance STARR's training and continue to raise that bar. Instructors bring back the knowledge and information for the course and submits a change in information for the course. This information is vetted, presented to the advisory board, and if approved implemented into the next manual update.
12. What type of experience does STARR instructors have that makes them uniquely qualified to a part of the organization?
The STARR Executive Staff have been working in the public service arena for over 20 plus years in both volunteer and professional settings. They have advanced degrees from accredited universities, have taught at high educational institutions, and have been published several times over in various journals. They have certifications from the nationally and internationally recognized International Association of Emergency Managers, have been recognized by the National Association of Emergency Medical Techniques as Affiliate Faculty, by the American Heart Association as Training Center Faculty, and mentors for the Golden Key Society. In addition, the executive staff and instructors have been involved in real-world experiences and disasters in which they were "requested" to deploy to help support communities with water rescue resources. These resources included but were not limited to Federal, State, and Local Incident Command, Rescue boats, and boots on the ground rescue personnel. STARR follows the National Response Framework, ICS, NIMS, and will only deploy when requested - we do not self deploy because we have the resources. This is because it undermines the IC system, NIMS, and causes more problems than it solves.
13. Why do people choose STARR?
The best way to answer is because we CARE. We are not a part-time company, training is our full time job. We believe is outstanding customer service, high quality training, ethical practices, and individuals with good morals. Each of us truly want to help communities better prepare to be able to respond when needed in order to save lives.