Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What about liability and insurance coverage?

This is usually one of the first questions asked. The following is taken from the coverage summary of the Liability Insurance for USPS. “It is important to understand that our insurance program is designed to protect USPS and its members when they are serving the organization for educational and civic purposes”. Also most personal insurance policies cover liability if you are not compensated for your efforts. Since SERAT is a volunteer group coverage would be provided. Coverage is also provided under the Good Samaritan Act. In Florida this is Statute 768.13. For further information please refer to the entire USPS Liability Insurance Policy and your own State’s Good Samaritan Act.


Is SERAT a separate organization from the Power Squadron?

No. SERAT is a highly trained, specialized unit sanctioned within the Squadron that can respond to water related emergencies, similar to CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).


Is SERAT an authorized activity?

Yes. The first step is to have the EXCOM sanction SERAT. This was accomplished under the Executive Committee section of the local Squadron By-Laws that states that the Executive Committee shall: Establish committees and appoint members thereto as may seem advisable and in the best interest of this squadron. It is important to have SERAT automatically authorized as an official activity due to the emergency nature of the responses.


What equipment is required in having a SERAT unit?

Equipment for SERAT can vary depending on funding and need. The minimum recommended equipment is:

Vessels and Fuel Vessel VHF Radios Charts of Area

Basic First Aid Kit
Life Vests
Vessel Identification (SERAT Banner)

The majority of this equipment is typically found on a member’s boat. A typical SERAT banner cost is approximately $35.00.


Can members be reimbursed for fuel costs?

This is not recommended as it may void your liability coverage. See question 1.


What is the minimum number of members a beginning SERAT unit should have?

The minimum number of members for an effective response would be 1 captain with a crew of 1.


What are the educational requirements to become a SERAT member? I am already an experience boater.

Education and training are the most important aspects of a successful SERAT unit. In order to have the skills to respond effectively, we have to have some standards. These are also key components when working alongside other agencies. The minimum Educational requirements for the various membership levels are:

Auxiliary Member: Crew Member:

Captain Member:

USPS membership
USPS Seamanship
CPR/AED Certified
USPS Piloting or equal (IE. USCG Captain License) CPR/AED Certified

FEMA ICS-100 certificate (on-line course)

Coast Guard Search Patterns

It is also important to note that each Crew and Captain member should be physically fit enough to handle the vessel effectively.


Why are the membership standards for SERAT so high and rigid?

Experience has found that other agencies recognize that having standards to measure a units viability is important. Since SERAT is highly visible to the public we need to show a high degree of professionalism as a volunteer unit. The standards set forth have proven to be successful in having SERAT recognized as a unit that is highly trained and organized to deal with water related emergencies.


Why is training important?

Training is important so that the SERAT unit is ready when called upon. Training also provides a method to keep current with your skills.


Why should we cross train with a fire department?

All fire departments both volunteer and professional are trained in fire fighting and medical emergencies. In many cases they do not have the same level of training in navigational and boat handling skills, even if they have a fire boat. In the area of boating education and navigational skills USPS is highly recognized as a leader throughout the country. On the other hand many USPS members may lack the skills needed in fire fighting and medical emergencies. By cross training each organization benefits from the expertise of their respective group. This cross training also establishes a working relationship between the members so they work together as a team.


Do I need a boat to participate?

No. There are levels within SERAT to allow members to participate without owning a boat.


Why is Vessel Identification so important?

Experience has shown that the average John Q. Public boater does not pay attention to other vessels unless they look official. While SERAT has no law enforcement authority, by having an identification banner and flashing lights, the average boater is drawn to pay special attention to that vessel and its mission. Various methods of ID were investigated at the start of the original program and it was found that the banners and flashing lights proved to be the best to gain recognition.


Why is the SERAT Manual so detailed?

The SERAT Manual does many things. It provides for the Mission Statement of SERAT, outlines the membership requirements, sets Standard Operating Procedures, recognized by other agencies, and many other aspects of the program. It also provides for consistency of operations similar to other emergency agencies.


Why is the FEMA ICS course so important?

The FEMA Incident Command System was established to form a uniform command structure when handling emergencies. While it is beyond the scope of SERAT to know all the ins and outs of how the system works, it is important to understand the basic concepts and terminology that is used and respond accordingly.


Why is coordination with other agencies so important?

In the event of an emergency SERAT is only one unit of many that may be responding. Each agency will have different tasks and responsibilities. By working closely in planning and participating in drills with these agencies each one knows what is expected of each other. This coordination has proven successful many times over the years by the founding Squadron.


Besides a local fire department what other agencies would SERAT respond with?

The list of other agencies would vary greatly depending on the geographical area. Agencies such as the local police department, county sheriff department and United States Coast Guard to name a few have used the founding SERAT unit for various missions.


Is interaction with a local Coast Guard station important?

Yes. Interaction with a local station is very important. Experience has shown that by having a working relationship with a local station they valve the service preformed by a trained SERAT unit. Experience has also found that the local Coast Guard can be valuable in providing additional training in areas such as Search and Rescue.


What type of missions would utilize SERAT?

The missions would vary based upon the area and local needs. Being on a barrier Island, the founding SERAT units has been called to assist in providing perimeter security for plane crashes, search and rescue missions, overdue boaters, lost kayakers and providing perimeter security for major swim events just to name a few.


What are the benefits to a Squadron?

The benefits to a Squadron are many. While the Squadron may be known for its Boating Education and Safety programs, they may not be recognized as a community service group. One benefit is that there may be many people who are not specifically interested in USPS but may have an interest in performing this type of community service. By providing this community service the Squadron’s name becomes highly visible to other areas of the public that may not have existed previously. SERAT also provides a mechanism to promote the Advanced Educational Courses as part of the membership level requirements as well as a means for its members to practice and hone their boating skills.


What is the benefit to the community?

The community will benefit by knowing that they have a highly trained and skilled group of volunteers that are able to provide assistance for on water emergencies. Local fire departments may not have water rescue assets or may be very limited in the ability to handle a large emergency. Knowing they can rely on SERAT to assist is very important. 

Back to SERAT Page