Our 2022 Application Period is now closed. If you are interested in joining Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, however, we encourage you to attend one of our general meetings and submit an application during our next current recruitment cycle, which will likely take place in the fall. Please read the information below and contact us with any questions.


Successful applicants will be invited to participate with the team as Prospective Members. To continue on to Trainee status Prospective Members must:

  • Attend a minimum of two out of three monthly Prospective Member classroom sessions and general membership meetings during the prospective member evaluation period.
  • Attend a minimum of two out of three monthly field training exercises during the prospective member evaluation period.
  • Participate in Trainee Selection Day. This is a day of field exercises during which we gauge Prospective Members’ aptitude for SAR and teamwork, and includes a fitness test.
  • Attendance of all meetings and training exercises during these three months is strongly encouraged.

At the conclusion of the Prospective Member period, the Board of Directors will select candidates to vote in as full-fledged team members with a Trainee status. Trainees have one year to attain Oregon State Sheriff’s Association certification as a SAR volunteer. This is done through our internal training program. During this first year, plan to log 150-200 hours on training exercises, meetings, and missions. Our expectation is that trainees will be fully engaged with the team while they work toward attaining their certification.

Check out our FAQS page to learn more about what we do. If you have further questions about PNWSAR, please email moreinfo@pnwsar.org. We'd love to hear from you!

Minimum Qualifications

  • Must be 18 or older.
  • All field operations team members must meet or exceed the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association search and rescue certification standards. We train our members internally to meet this requirement.
  • All members are background checked through Hood River County Sheriff's Office and registered Oregon Emergency Management and Washington Department of Emergency Management.
  • Each deployable member must have a minimum certification in basic First Aid and CPR. (First Responders, EMTs, and Paramedics are always welcome).
  • Our bylaws and state laws require that members maintain necessary training hours quarterly in order to provide the safest and highest level of expertise.
  • While outdoor experience is not required, you do need to be in good physical shape to be a field operations member. In addition to field operations, we also have members who assist with base camp, communications, and maintenance functions if needed.
  • All team members are required to supply and maintain their own equipment. See our equipment list (attached below) The list can appear long and expensive, but we find many people have most of what's on this list already at home. If you find after reviewing our equipment list that you don't have everything we require, please don't let that stop you from applying to join our team. We'll let you know ahead of time what things are critical and which things you can wait to get. We advise against purchasing new gear for SAR until you've had time to discuss options with current members.
  • We are an active team and we will require a lot of your time if you join. Your first year will be especially busy with certification training and testing on top of normal group functions. This requires a high level of commitment.

Before joining, you should know...

  • We are a volunteer organization. We do not get paid for our work.
  • Searches are urgent in nature. We can be called out any hours of the day or night, in all types of weather, temperatures, and terrain. Applicants who are active with family activities and/or demanding employment schedules should consider their level of flexibility in the home and workplace. Discuss your decision to apply with your household and employer.
  • We search for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations: missing hikers, hunters, children, Alzheimer's patients, suicide victims, body recoveries, and more. We also do evidence searches including those for human remains. You always have the option of not going on any particular callout, but we want you to know upfront that we do more than just find missing hikers.
  • As outlined above, group membership is not a quick process. There are a number of team requirements that must be met before you are allowed to participate in real missions. Your personal motivation level will dictate your progress and the team does impose reasonable time limits to become field ready.
  • Search and rescue work can be the most unforgiving, ungrateful, unappreciated work you've ever not been paid for. You can spend five days on a search for someone you might never find, or who might not say thank you. However, it can also be the most rewarding thing you have ever done.


We're often asked about the time commitment required of our team members. Here is an outline of the 2022 training schedule to give you an idea of our non-mission commitments. Note: These dates are tentative and subject to change.


  •  In-person/Virtual Meetings:
    • Prospect/Trainee on second Tuesday of every month at 1800 (April-Sept)
    • Full team meeting is second Tuesday of every month at 1900
  • 2022 In-person events for Prospective Members:
    • Sat 4/23 - Prospective Field Training: Intro meeting/Shelter Building/Fire Building/Search Techniques/Map Basics
    • Sun 4/24 - Full Team Field Training: Mock Mission #1 - Type 2 Search
    • Sat 5/21 Full Team Field Training: Medical
    • Sun 5/22 Prospective Field Training: Patient Packaging/Litters/Plotting/Navigation Basics
    • Sat 6/25 - Full Team Field Training: Speciality Training #1
    • Sun 6/26 - Prospective Field Training: Qualification Day
  • 2022 In-person events for Trainee Members:
  • *Trainees who meet operational requirements are eligible to take part in missions*
    • Sat 7/16 - Full Team Field Training: Specialty Training #2
    • Sun 7/17 - Trainee Field Training: Navigation
    • Fri 8/19 - * OVERNIGHT Full Team Field Training: Advanced Navigation
    • Sun 8/21 - Trainee Field Training: Medical
    • Sat 9/17 - Trainee Field Training: Knots, Litter on a Slope, Water Safety
    • Sun 9/18 - Full Team Field Training: Ropes and Stream Crossing Skills
    • Sat 10/15 - * EVENING Full Team Field Training: Mock Mission #2 (Packout Scenarios)
    • Sun 10/16 - Trainee Field Training: Cert Day
    • Sun 11/20 - Full Team Field Training: SAR Olympics
Download Equipment List