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View Full Version : Any volunteer Search & Rescue here?


Kram12085
05-17-2009, 2:50 PM
I've been considering doing this in the SoCal area when I get back stateside for a number of reasons, basically get to do something good without having to change careers. I also love the outdoors so it seems like a fitting job. I did some online searching and it seems like there's dozens of teams with not very similar training pipelines - there's teams affiliated with cities, counties, county Sheriffs, fire departments, police, etc. Does anyone with experience have anything to say about what it's like as a volunteer or where my best bet would be to look for opportunities? Thanks.

eta34
05-17-2009, 4:26 PM
LASD has a Search and Rescue team comprised of reserves deputies. I would contact the San Dimas station and get more information.

Tallship
05-17-2009, 5:19 PM
SDSO has a very active Search and Rescue team. Info here:

http://sdsheriff.net/sar/joinsar.html#options

Ron-Solo
05-19-2009, 3:31 PM
LASD Teams are reserves and most of the stations bordering the San Gabriel Mountains have them, including San Dimas, Temple (Sierra Madre Search & Rescue), and Malibu. There may be more, but these come to the forefront right away.

CSACANNONEER
05-19-2009, 4:37 PM
All sheriff departments in California are mandated to provide S&R services within their county. The interesting thing is that most depts. use volunteers for this. Yet, they pay officers to patrol the county which is not something the sheriff's dept. is mandated to do. Go figure?

Ron-Solo
05-20-2009, 8:38 AM
They use volunteers because of the man hours involved in many searches and the fact they are not needed until there is an incident. When something happens, you can't deplete your entire field force to cover a search, so they can call in the reserves.

Also, the technical training needed for some of the stuff they do is monumental. When I worked our mountain patrol assignment, I spent a lot of time with guys from the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team. They are highly trained and their level of expertise is astounding. As a 31 year 'full time' law enforcement officer, these 'volunteers' have my utmost respect. They perform highly technical rescues 'over the side' where the pucker factor is extreme. San Gabriel Canyon has some extremely remote and rugged areas, where a 500 ft drop over the side is not uncommon.

Before I came on the department, my older brother was on the SDMRT for many years as a reserve. I saw the many hours of training they went through and actually volunteered to be a 'victim' on several of their traing exercises. One of my proudest days was when we were able to go 10-8 together as partners (regular & reserve) before he left the reserve unit.

P.S. They are very proud that they are the San Dimas MOUNTAIN Rescue, not just Search & Rescue.

CSACANNONEER
05-20-2009, 7:46 PM
They use volunteers because of the man hours involved in many searches and the fact they are not needed until there is an incident. When something happens, you can't deplete your entire field force to cover a search, so they can call in the reserves.



I did a few years in a SAR unit back in the mid to late '80's. I agree with your entire post except (in theroy) the part about not depleting your entire field force. I believe that no sheriff's dept. in CA is mandated by law to maintain a "field force". However, it is my recolection that every sheriff's dept. is mandated to maintain a SAR unit. BTW, we were not "reserves". we were just unpaid employees of the coroner's office. The reality of all sheriff's depts. fielding patrol units and the communities conting on them to patrol does make your arguement for all volunteer units a good one. I've always wondered what would happen if all the volunteers happened to be out of town or otherwise unable to repsoned when an incident went down though.

Ron-Solo
05-21-2009, 3:16 PM
I did a few years in a SAR unit back in the mid to late '80's. I agree with your entire post except (in theroy) the part about not depleting your entire field force. I believe that no sheriff's dept. in CA is mandated by law to maintain a "field force". However, it is my recolection that every sheriff's dept. is mandated to maintain a SAR unit. BTW, we were not "reserves". we were just unpaid employees of the coroner's office. The reality of all sheriff's depts. fielding patrol units and the communities conting on them to patrol does make your arguement for all volunteer units a good one. I've always wondered what would happen if all the volunteers happened to be out of town or otherwise unable to repsoned when an incident went down though.

LASD covers many unincorporated county areas with a minimum staffing level determined by the Department at the direction of the Board of Supervisors. As far as a mandate by state law, you are correct about field deployment to a point. We also provide law enforcement services to numerous (can't remember the exact amount, but somewhere near 40) contract cities and the Superior Court. The Superior Court Contract is over $100 million a year and over 1,000 deputies.

LASD also has full time deputies assigned to our Emergency Services Detail. They are almost all paramedics and SWAT trained, as well as being Public Safety Divers. They cover our mountain areas, ocean rescue boats, and air rescue units. They also work closely with the volunteer rescue teams assigned to the various stations. The volunteer rescue team members are, for the most part, also classified as "Reserve Specialists" with varying levels of reserve powers. When they have an operation that exceeds the manpower of a particular team, multiple teams can be called in to supplement, and they work together very well. Of course there is some rivalry between teams, but it is in a positive light and results from pride in what they do.

Too many guys resent reserves, but I've has my butt bailed out by them too many times to overlook the good they do.....

CSACANNONEER
05-21-2009, 4:13 PM
LASD covers many unincorporated county areas with a minimum staffing level determined by the Department at the direction of the Board of Supervisors. As far as a mandate by state law, you are correct about field deployment to a point. We also provide law enforcement services to numerous (can't remember the exact amount, but somewhere near 40) contract cities and the Superior Court. The Superior Court Contract is over $100 million a year and over 1,000 deputies.

LASD also has full time deputies assigned to our Emergency Services Detail. They are almost all paramedics and SWAT trained, as well as being Public Safety Divers. They cover our mountain areas, ocean rescue boats, and air rescue units. They also work closely with the volunteer rescue teams assigned to the various stations. The volunteer rescue team members are, for the most part, also classified as "Reserve Specialists" with varying levels of reserve powers. When they have an operation that exceeds the manpower of a particular team, multiple teams can be called in to supplement, and they work together very well. Of course there is some rivalry between teams, but it is in a positive light and results from pride in what they do.

Too many guys resent reserves, but I've has my butt bailed out by them too many times to overlook the good they do.....

Thanks for confirming what I thought I remembered about SOs and patrol officers. I did neglect to consider contract patrol since, that is between agencies and municipalities and not a state mandated thing. Also, I would consider LASO to be more of the exception since the county and the sheriff's dept. so large, they can afford to have more paid specialty officers than any other county's SO. It sure sounds like LA County is the place to be when one needs a SAR unit.

AndrewMendez
05-21-2009, 4:21 PM
I have my Rescue Systems One Cert, and Volunterred with LA County Fire for 7 years out of Azusa. We did a couple disaster drills with LASD, and to be honest, they are nothing more then Senior Citizens with a bunch of free time! There are a couple younger people, but the majority are at the retire age. How old are you? How much time are you looking at getting into it. Where do you live? You might want to look into a Reserve or Cadet program. Maybe something ON Call in the more Rural Areas. LA County Fire has a couple call firefighter, but not very easy to get into. Catalina, Santa Clarita...

Ron-Solo
05-25-2009, 10:01 PM
I have my Rescue Systems One Cert, and Volunterred with LA County Fire for 7 years out of Azusa. We did a couple disaster drills with LASD, and to be honest, they are nothing more then Senior Citizens with a bunch of free time! There are a couple younger people, but the majority are at the retire age. How old are you? How much time are you looking at getting into it. Where do you live? You might want to look into a Reserve or Cadet program. Maybe something ON Call in the more Rural Areas. LA County Fire has a couple call firefighter, but not very easy to get into. Catalina, Santa Clarita...

Some of those 'senior citizens' you refer to could out hike many 20 year olds. I remember years ago doing a marijuana plantation raid in a really rugged wilderness area with one of those 'seniors' you talk so negatively about. My first thought was that we would end up carrying the 'old guy' out at the end of the day. Turns out he took point most of the day, humped as hard as anyone else, and pulled his share of the load and then some. I later learned he did 3 tours in Vietnam, was ex-Green Beret, and received more medals than I can count.

San Gabriel Canyon has some of the most rugged areas in the state. The San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team goes anywhere in the canyon. I've watched them go over the side on 500 ft drops where LA Co Fire did not have the gear to do that type of technical rescue. They did it without a 2nd thought. LA Co Fire is good, but they aren't set up for that type of rescue.

I'm 52+ years old, have almost 31 years on the job, and I can still pack my mud. Remember, we didn't get this old by being stupid, lazy, etc.

If you want to be a part of a great team, look them up. They can be contacted thru San Dimas Station. 909-599-1261