The application period for our 2020 recruitment cycle is currently closed.
With the effects of COVID-19, our recruiting timeline for this year has been pushed back significantly. While we would normally be posting membership applications in September, we have made the decision to delay this until after the 2020 calendar year. We will reassess our ability to onboard new members in January 2021. Please check back then for updates.

Thank you for your interest in joining Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, one of the region's premier ground search teams. Before you submit an application, we want to make you aware of the requirements and the process to become a member of this team and an Oregon state-certified SAR volunteer. Search and rescue is a highly demanding volunteer experience. It requires an elevated level of commitment in terms of time, fitness, and finances. Please read the following and consider the feasibility of adding this to your life at this time.

In order for your application to be considered, you must:

  • Submit your application and pay the $40 application fee. This fee pays for your uniform once you become a member. If you are not selected as a Prospective Member, the fee will be refunded. If you are selected and subsequently drop during the prospect period, the fee will be forfeited.
  • Attend a general membership meeting. Meeting information can be found here.
  • Attend an orientation meeting. These will be scheduled once we have established our next recruiting timeline.
  • If the above requirements are met…

  • Your application will be reviewed by the PNWSAR Board of Directors.
  • You may be invited to an interview with the Board of Directors.
  • You will need to pass a background check.
  • Successful applicants will be invited to participate with the team as Prospective Members. Prospective Members must:

  • Attend a minimum of 2 out of 3 monthly Prospective Member classroom sessions and general membership meetings during the prospective member evaluation period.
  • Attend a minimum of 2 out of 3 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.

    Good luck!

    Check out our FAQS page to learn more about what we do. If you have further questions about PNWSAR, please email 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 a lot 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 5 days on a search for someone you might never find, or who might not even say thank you. But, it can also be the most rewarding thing you ever do.

    We're often asked about the time commitment required of our team members. Here is an outline of the 2020 training schedule to give you an idea of our non-mission commitments:

    • Meetings:
    • Second Tuesday of the month (Jan-Nov)
    • 6pm-7pm - Prospect classroom training (Jan-Mar)/Trainee classroom training (Apr-Nov)
    • 7pm-9pm - General membership meeting

    • Trainee Selection Day:
    • March 21st - Saturday - 7am

    • Certification Skills Assessment Days:
    • June 6th - Saturday - 9am
    • September 12th - Saturday - 9am
    • December 5th - Saturday - 9am

    • Field Trainings:
    • January 18th - Saturday - 9am
    • February 16th - Sunday - 9am
    • March 14th - Saturday - 9am
    • April 18th - Saturday - 9am
    • May 17th - Sunday - 9am
    • June 13th - Saturday - 9am
    • July 18th - Saturday - 9am
    • August 14th - Friday - 630pm
    • September 20th - Sunday - 9am
    • October 17th - Saturday - 9am
    • November 14th - Saturday - 9am
    Download Equipment List