The United States Coast Guard will have a definition for SAR, which defers greatly from the definition found in Australia for search and rescue. The US coast guard for example, uses a broad definition, which includes any actions taken to help a person even in potential distress using available resources. The Australian National Search and Rescue Council (NATSAR Council) uses a narrower definition (Thomas, pp. 29-33, 2007). They define SAR as serving those people who seem to be in a life-threatening situation. Their definition also emphasizes more on the fact that they provide assistance in searching and rescuing these people, rather than which resources they use (Australian National Search and Rescue Council, pp. 2, 2010). Another differing definition is the one used by the Maritime and Aeronautics Search and Rescue team of Hong Kong, who simply consider this an activity aimed to save lives (Security Bureau, pp. 3, 2006). While all these definitions differ, all these different organizations have some basic characteristics in common. They all aim to save lives in emergencies and they do so by employing an ever-ready staff and available equipment.
The importance of search and rescue is undeniable for any person. It is one field that a person living any lifestyle is bound to come across. Whether these people are present at home, in their workplaces, in the streets or in any sort of transport, they always face the risk of a life-threatening situation, during which they will need the help of a Search and Rescue agency involved. The importance of SAR is thus, imminent in the lives of every person. The importance of this issue also entails the fact that it is a social service that is often provided free of cost by the SAR volunteers, who wish for no more reward than to know that they are able to provide a valuable community service to people. Another factor (Thomas, pp. 35-41, 2007) that adds significance to the provision of this service is that