Membership Requirements

The application period for the 2019 SAR Academy is closed. Those received will be for the next academy

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What are the membership requirements?

You must be at least 21 years old and in good standing with the community. Because of the nature of Search and Rescue (SAR), each prospective member must pass a background check that is conducted by the Sheriff's Department. Good physical condition and the desire to learn and help others are also required.

Does it matter where I live?

There are seven SAR teams in the county of Ventura. Three are Mountain Rescue teams which are based in Upper Ojai, Fillmore and Thousand Oaks. Due to the geographical area of responsibilities Upper Ojai members usually live in Ojai and Santa Paula, Fillmore team members usually live in Fillmore or Piru and East Valley members live in both East and West County. The Canine, Medical, Posse and Dive specialty teams live throughout Ventura County.

Do I need any prior skills or training?

There are no specific prerequisites for the Mountain Rescue teams. You will be provided the training in all the skills necessary. Familiarity with backcountry skills through backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, or hunting is an asset as well as prior Search and Rescue experience. The Medical team requires members to be paramedics, nurses, or doctors working in Ventura County.

Do SAR members get paid?

Search and Rescue members are strictly volunteer. Most members get permission from their employers to respond to Search and Rescue call outs. The satisfaction of finding and returning someone to their loved ones or rescuing someone in distress provides tremendous satisfaction for team members.

How much time does SAR take?

Search and Rescue is definitely time consuming. For VCSAR 3 there is an initial 10 month academy that meets two evenings and two weekends a month. In addition each team meets once a month for team meetings. Each team trains one weekend a month and averages 3-5 full days a month for searches and/or rescues (varies between teams). This can be greatly increased if a team is called to assist another team. The East Valley team is accredited as a Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) team and is subject to out of county responses. This increases their time commitments. Families are also affected and need to be as dedicated to the purpose as the member.

Does SAR cost members anything?

Members are responsible for providing all their personal gear. Personal gear usually consists of team cold weather gear, team uniform, boots and other miscellaneous items. The Sheriff's Department supplies the basic rescue equipment required to function safely. Teams purchase additional equipment for the team and members with donations from the public.

What are the Physical Fitness Requirements?

The physical fitness requirements can be found here.

I'm still interested, What do I do now?

If you would like to dedicate the time to become a member of the Ventura County Sheriff's Volunteer Search and Rescue Program you should apply online (preferred) or download an application. The application is then forwarded to the team you've shown interest in. Teams have a limit on the number of members and usually accept members every two years. When there is an academy you will be notified and interviewed. Following an acceptable background check you will be notified of the additional steps needed and the probationary requirements.

Send an email if you have further questions.

Apply online