Become a SAR Volunteer

Please note there will be no 2023 academy. Please check back in October/November of 2023 for updates regarding the 2024 academy!

Thank you for your interest in joining one of the largest, most active SAR units in Oregon. The Deschutes County Search and Rescue organization operates under the direction of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and is comprised of approximately 120 volunteers who donate their time and energy to participate in missions to rescue those lost or injured in the wilderness.

Search and rescue is a highly demanding volunteer experience, both in terms of training and actual missions. Our volunteers train and participate on teams with expertise in mountain rescue, swift water rescue, backcountry skiing, snowmobile, ATV, tracking, K9 searches, horseback searches, air searches, and wilderness medical treatment.

Sign up to join our mailing list to receive information and updates about applying for future SAR Academy classes:

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

DCSAR Volunteer Updates

  • Please note there will be no 2023 academy. Please check back in October/November 2023 for updates on the 2024 academy!
  • Below are the 2022 academy dates, for review
  • Applicants who pass the initial screening must attend one of the following two information sessions held at 63360 NW Britta St, Special Services Bldng #3 in Bend:
    • Saturday, February 5, 2022, 10-11:30am
    • Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 6-7:30pm
    • Applicants can choose which date to attend.  Spouses and significant others encouraged to attend.
  • Applicants must also participate in a physical fitness hiking test from 2pm-5pm on either:
    • Thursday, February 10, 2022
    • Saturday, February 12, 2022
    • Applicants can choose which date to attend.
  • The academy is from the end of March through the beginning of May. A detailed schedule for the 2022 Academy is included below.
    • Applicants must be available to attend all of these dates and times.

Application Process

  • Upon receipt of your completed application packet, the Sheriff’s Office will conduct both a criminal and Department of Motor Vehicle background check.  You must pass a driving record review and criminal history background check.  Candidates who wish to be considered for this position must include an accurate driver’s license number and state of origin on their application under the Personal Information section.
  • Skills listed on the application will be reviewed and matched up with our anticipated needs for 2022 SAR.
  • If selected for the next phase of the application process, you will be required to attend an informational meeting, complete a physical fitness test, and undergo a personal interview with Sheriff’s Office and SAR staff.
  • Final candidates will be required to submit to a urine test for drug screening.
  • Final candidates will be required to be fingerprinted and participate in online training for CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) access.

Volunteer Expectations

We urge you to carefully consider the time and fitness commitments SAR requires before submitting your application. Search & Rescue is a highly demanding volunteer experience, both in terms of training and missions. Our members are required to log a minimum of 100 hours annually.

The average member puts in over 200 hours per year and many members exceed 400 hours annually. Volunteer members are required to participate in a minimum of six missions each year.
  • Volunteers must be physically fit and able to hike for long distances carrying heavy equipment over varied terrain in all weather conditions. Members are expected to provide their own personal equipment and supplies.
  • SAR missions are urgent in nature and can happen at any time of the day or night with operational periods lasting 6 to 24 hours. Applicants who have dependents and/or demanding employment schedules should consider their level of flexibility in the home and workplace.
  • You will be asked to give a check for $100 to the SAR Foundation prior to the start of the Academy. Upon graduation, you will receive SAR clothing worth approximately $150. If you are selected but drop out of the Academy, you will forfeit the $100. If you leave SAR for any reason at any time, you will need to return the SAR clothing items.
  • We expect that you will view SAR as a minimum 3-year commitment.
  • The first year is especially challenging. Before applying, make sure you will be available for the following required dates and times.

SAR Advanced Skills

All SAR members are trained to be qualified to participate in basic search missions and support advanced skills teams when they are deployed. In addition to basic qualifications, SAR advanced skills include:

  • Incident Management Team (IMT)
  • Mountain Rescue Team (MRU)
  • Cave Rescue
  • Medical
  • Swift Water
  • Dive
  • Canine
  • Horse
  • Tracking
  • All Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
  • Snowmobile Transport
  • Alpine, Nordic and Back Country Skiing
  • Information Technology and Communications support.

Participation in advanced skills is dependent upon interest, ability, and availability to train with the teams. New members are encouraged to consider any of these options after they have completed basic certification requirements.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, SAR Operations: 541-388-6501 or email [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

A mission is any event for which Search & Rescue is called out. It could be a search, rescue or a recovery.
There are over a 120 Volunteers supervised by a Lieutenant, who is the Special Services Coordinator, 4 Deputies, who are the Assistant SAR Coordinators and an Office Manager.
Once 911 has received a call, it gets transferred to the on-call Special Services Coordinator, or an assist Coordinator of the Deschutes County Search & Rescue. Once the mission is accepted by the Special Services Coordinator, an investigation is started. If SAR resources are needed, a page is sent requesting the SAR resources that are needed to accomplish the mission. Those who are available can respond for the mission.
Yes we do. However volunteers are not asked to do anything they are uncomfortable doing.
Our immediate response area is anywhere inside Deschutes County, however, other counties may call Deschutes County Search & Rescue for our assistance and if approved by the Sheriff’s Office Captain we will help.
Most rescues are lost or stranded people and medical emergencies.