Search the Earth, Inc., is a Federal & FL State 501(c)(3) organization formed to prevent / respond to incidents of missing or abducted children, adults or otherwise medically impaired individuals
Initial funding was provided by the Nantucket Island Rotary Club, following our work in post-earthquake Haiti.
In Haiti, we joined teams at the United Nations on-site Operations Centre in "tent city," alongside the tarmac at Port au Prince airfield and provided initial search and mental health support.
We proudly facilitated the successful medical evacuation of a child who suffered a double-amputation in Haiti. This brave girl graduated from the French School, in Manhattan, in June 2014!
The acronym - S.E.A.R.C.H. (Search, Educate, Assure, Rescue, Children, incorporates our missions:: 1) K-9 search & rescue (live air-scent); 2) Preventive education / presentations to pre-and-elementary school classes, Scouting and community groups; 3) Provide Critical Incident defusing/debriefing for victims, family members and First Responders (PTSD prevention); 4. Therapy dog duties (hospitals, nursing & hospice).
Background & Staffing:
Joe "Jody" Fitzgerald, Ed.M., CEAP, CISM: Search the Earth, was conceived as an adjunct to his work as EAP clinician/manager to municipal, law enforcement, airline flight crews and as a counselor for combat veterans suffering PTSD.
Trained at Harvard, this former Marine incorporates his professional background as a teacher and crisis/trauma counselor to victims of natural and man-made disasters (Hurricane Andrew, post-shooting response, earthquake and flood events, and terrorist bombings).
Mr. Fitzgerald's professional credentials include Certification in: Critical Incident Stress Management, Post-Shooting Trauma, Dept. of Justice Victim Assistance, N.O.V.A., Employee Assistance Professional, Police Chaplaincy, Substance Abuse Professional & K-9 trainer, various FEMA Courses. He is a Voting Member of the National Association for Search and Rescue and has utilized trained K-9 retrievers in his clinical work, since 1976.
TEJYL(pronounced "Tay-zhal") is our "Emeritus" retriever. His name derives from the Gujarat Hindu name, Tejal, meaning "brightness and light," reflecting his gold and cream coloring and sweet disposition. While serving in post-earthquake Haiti, Tejyl earned the nom de guerre,"Ambassador of Smiles," among the victims he served in the field hospitals of Project Medishare for Haiti (University of Miami Medical School Global Institute). We laid Tejyl to rest in 2015, a year following his suffering an injury while searching for University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham.
Comhar: Comhar ("Partner" in Gaelic), donated by Nantucket Holidays for Heroes, has his own unique personality - "Dennis the Mennis," to Tejyl's "Ghandi-like" disposition, but with an extraordinary focus on his search tasks.
While our K-9's primary task is searching for live victims, his presence at disaster sites serves as an "ice-breaker" for our critical incident debriefing of victims and First Responders. His calm, sweet demeanor breaks down language barriers, regardless of culture, reducing resistance and promoting trust in difficult times, particularly with children, as the photos on our Facebook page attest.
Our volunteerism extends to: Presentations to classrooms, summer camps, scouting and similar organizations including, "Make-a-Wish" children through the outstanding "Give Kids the World Village," in Kissimmee, FL. As our dogs age, we obtain Therapy Dog Certification through Alliance for Therapy Dogs, out of Wyoming.
Since 2005, we have pursued search and rescue efforts in Costa Rica (Brendan Dobbins); Orlando, FL (Jennifer Kesse, Caylee Anthony); Palatka, FL (Hayleigh Cummings); Titusville, FL (Lottie Wise); Palm Bay, FL (Brandy Hall & Marsharie Lemons-Garrett); Sebastian, FL (Ms. Houlihan); Melbourne, FL (Robert Harrison and Mr. Logan); Charlottesville, VA (Hannah Graham).
We have also participated with the following: Holidays for Heroes (serving Wounded Warriors on Nantucket Island); Childwatch of North America; Give Kids the World Village; Embrace Girl-Power, Inc. (Miami); Melbourne Police Athletic League; Church and Scouting groups, Ommani International; Team Rubicon, Woodstock Day School, NY, Summer Camp program, & Scout Troop 135, Saugerties, NY.
As time permits, we provide no-fee, school and community presentations to elementary school children. Mr. Fitzgerald is registered as a vounteer vetted by Brevard County schools.
Please take a moment to "Like" our FACEBOOK PAGE at: Facebook.com/searchtheearth