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Thread: How does one get into SAR?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    California
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    345

    Default How does one get into SAR?

    I like being outdoors. I like hiking. I currently work on the 'back end' of AMR (American Medical Response) and see what goes on from this point of view. I want a more 'interesting' job, and want to get into the EMS field starting as an EMT-B/I and hopefully onto being a full Paramedic. I think it would be a dream job to actually work on a SAR team, saving the lives of people who really need it, unlike a lot of 'city stuff' I've seen. With that said...how does one get into SAR?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    2,463
    I woudl like to know too...lol

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    The WET! Coast of Oregon, USA
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    as a HAM operator i've mingled with local SAR teams for over a decade...here is what i've found for our area that may be helpful as places of initial contact for further information; Sheriff Department or Posse, Local Fire Dept, HAM Club (they are hooked up with them in emergencies so they have contacts), Local chapter of Civil Air Patrol (my wife and i were part of a local CAP chapter...really great crew and excellent SAR training and exercises.).

    Cheers,
    Thom
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Kentucky
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    176
    Part of it depends on your AO. I used to be a professional rattlesnake hunter in Florida and I was asked to participate in several rescues just because me and my buddies knew more about the local forests than anyone else. I also am a certified divemaster and PADI instructor and I've been on a couple of body recoveries for dead cave divers. All of that SAR stuff was just being in the right place at the right time and also being the best person for that task. I know it sounds cocky, but it is what it is.

    Now it seems like Homeland Security has injected their tentacles into everything all the way down to the city and county level and you need all kinds of classes, training and certifications just to walk around the woods and look for someone, lol.

    I guess my point is, what do you bring to the table? Do you have the most awesome dog in the county? Can you slither through a 10' deep cave crevice that is only 15" wide? Do you have all the equipment to dive 1,000 feet into a silted out cave? A lot of SAR people get chosen because they are the best rafting_guide/snake_wrangler/lumberjack/pilot/dog_handler/whatever.

    If medical is your thing, then go for it. Become the best. The world will beat a path to your door. From what I've seen most rescues take place at the county level, unless it's a celebrity, then it rises to the state level so maybe check out your county's inner workings.

    Smokejumpers seem to have the best of all worlds. They get paid for one, plus they get free training, free medical care, free food, and they get trained in helicopters, parachuting, firefighting, climbing, medical, woodscraft, etc. Maybe you can get a job as a smokejumper with the forest service.

  5. #5
    I know it Oregon SAR is run by the Sheriff's office in each County. For example Marin County has a site http://marinsar.org/Links/links.htm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boulder, CO
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    933
    When I was on ski patrol the SAR teams were always interested in getting folks to join on. Coming to the table with medical knowledge is a big bonus since when you find people you usually have to care for them.

    I'd just call the sheriff and ask how to get in touch with the volunteer SAR teams, they should quickly know who to contact.

    From all my acquaintances that are in it most folks burn out after a few years. Lots of the calls are going out on Mondays/Tuesdays so you need to have that flexibility in your day job. Also you'll get called for "city stuff" a lot when an Alzheimer patient gets lost, helping the cops with evidence searches, etc. Definitely not all about grabbing a back pack and charging off into the woods to save folks. So bear that in mind to make sure it's a fit for you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Boulder, colorado
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    So to clarify.... very few people get paid for SAR in the US. The only full team that comes to mind is YoSAR in yosemite, and they are basically a bunch of 5.11+ trad climbers that live in the valley and get paid on call to perform rescue under the supervision of full time climbing rangers. It is hardly a career, but definitely a fun seasonal job if you like living out of a tent and risking your life for pennies. The only people who get paid a decent salary for any sort of regular SAR is climbing rangers, and that is a completely different, and competitive path.
    On top of that there are 3 types of SAR; Mountain Rescue (MRA accredited teams) and ground search and rescue (Nasar), and urban search and rescue(USAR or local FD). Ground Search and rescue teams mostly search for lost, overdue parties ect. Urban search and rescue does technical rescue in an urban environment in events such as a natural disaster. Mountain rescue teams provides everything from technical climbing rescue and lost party search in foothills to high alpine terrain. All of these teams are composed of volunteers (NASAR/MRA)or FD members(USAR).
    Teams vary greatly in application and training. Some teams you can almost walk on to. Some of the more prestigious teams require an entrance interview, up to 1.5yrs of training and a final vote AFTER training, these teams are very selective and only take people with the best technical skills and mindset.

    My best advice is to just do a google search for SAR in your area, see what comes up, then talk to members of that team on how to join. Good luck and have fun with your new interest! EMS is a fun field of work, Wilderness EMS is even more fun!
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Fallon, NV
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    294
    Sounds like you need to find a rural EMS agency to work for! I am a Critical Care Paramedic in Fallon, Nevada and we cover 5400 sq miles of our own high desert county and respond to all neighboring counties for assistance when needed. I have had the privilege of riding on quads, sandrails, the back of pickups, even horse back and on board the US Navy SAR helicopters. Plus our scope of practice is impressive because we are so remote.

    I joined the local volunteer SAR team of our Sheriff Dept and am acting as an unofficial medical liason since there was really not much in place. I am also working on intergrating aspects of SAR into our ambulance service including rope rescue.

    I would say Fire/EMS is the way to go. Very competative and even more so right now as few places are actually hiring. Find a department that does rescue (swiftwater, ice, rope rescue, confined space, etc).
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    covina ca
    Posts
    507
    Yep he is spot on. Being in Cali you will most likely need to contact your local Sheriff to see what sar teams are in your area. You will need to get a first responder type medical cert like NSP provides but after that they can help you with the rest.


    Oh some sheriff teams are paid SAR as I have worked with a few counties that are well funded and very good. You will need to go threough part of the acadamy.


    Yosar uses a few climbers out of camp 4 but allot of the team is park service or concessions employees and new rangers. Been on the team for the last 5 years as a Yodog handler.


    Sar in Cali is done with help from the state mutual aid CAL EMA and everyone is classified to do what they have been tested to do like mountain rescue or just a ground pounder to a K9 handler.


    Quote Originally Posted by wildmed View Post
    So to clarify.... very few people get paid for SAR in the US. The only full team that comes to mind is YoSAR in Yosemite, and they are basically a bunch of 5.11+ trad climbers that live in the valley and get paid on call to perform rescue under the supervision of full time climbing rangers. It is hardly a career, but definitely a fun seasonal job if you like living out of a tent and risking your life for pennies. The only people who get paid a decent salary for any sort of regular SAR is climbing rangers, and that is a completely different, and competitive path.
    On top of that there are 3 types of SAR; Mountain Rescue (MRA accredited teams) and ground search and rescue (Nasar), and urban search and rescue(USAR or local FD). Ground Search and rescue teams mostly search for lost, overdue parties ect. Urban search and rescue does technical rescue in an urban environment in events such as a natural disaster. Mountain rescue teams provides everything from technical climbing rescue and lost party search in foothills to high alpine terrain. All of these teams are composed of volunteers (NASAR/MRA)or FD members(USAR).
    Teams vary greatly in application and training. Some teams you can almost walk on to. Some of the more prestigious teams require an entrance interview, up to 1.5yrs of training and a final vote AFTER training, these teams are very selective and only take people with the best technical skills and mindset.

    My best advice is to just do a google search for SAR in your area, see what comes up, then talk to members of that team on how to join. Good luck and have fun with your new interest! EMS is a fun field of work, Wilderness EMS is even more fun!
    Last edited by Gooseberry; 08-08-2011 at 01:37 PM.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    California
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    345
    Thank you guys for all the information! Please feel free to add more info, as this is great for those of us who have interests in SAR but don't know where to start! I will look into my local area SO and see what requirements/steps there are to get onto a SAR team. I hope this helps others as much as it helped me!

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