Joining PCSAR

Membership is open to almost anyone at least 16 years old and approved by the Latah County Sheriff. Physical abilities are important if you will be part of a ground search team, since the activities will probably include traveling off trails while carrying a pack. However, there are other opportunities, especially those related to search management, that don't require physical exertion.

Business and training meetings are open to all, and you're invited to attend to meet members and to learn more about the group and SAR. Formal active membership requires these actions:

  1. Complete an application form. You tell us a little about yourself, how you can be contacted, and your training in the SAR field,
  2. Complete a Sheriff's Waiver for Background Check form. Since the Latah County Sheriff is ultimately responsible for the actions of SAR volunteers, passing a check of your background is necessary. (Be sure to check the PCSAR box on the form.)

    The Waiver needs to be notarized and turned in to the Sheriff. The easiest way to do this is to take the form to the Sheriff's Office Dispatch window. The Dispatcher can notarize and process the form. The office is at 522 South Adams Street: the block bounded by Adams and Van Buren streets on the west and east and Fifth and Sixth streets on the south and north.

  3. Attend three business meetings. 
  4. Sign up on the web-based user group so that you can stay advised of events. Directions on signing up can be found in the Reference Documents section.
Once you have demonstrated your commitment to the group, you will attain full membership for voting purposes.

You are also expected to rapidly complete these requirements as well:

  1. Valid Basic First Aid (or higher) certification. To assist you in meeting this requirement, the Latah SAR Council holds training sessions periodically. There is no cost to SAR members.
  2. Become certified with basic understanding of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). This is the framework in which emergency incidents (e.g. a lost person search) are conducted. Training is occasionally provided through the Latah SAR Council. You can take the course online at the IS-700a page of the Department of Homeland Security Emergency Management Institute.
  3. Certify in the Incident Command System. This part of NIMS, is the system we use in Latah County to manage an event like a search. Again, training is occasionally available through the SAR Council, but it is easiest to go online to the IS-100 page.

Please note that search and rescue is not glamorous.  You are expected to spend your own time and money to do difficult work in relatively dangerous conditions, with your only reward being the self-satisfaction that you helped someone who needed it.  Most likely you will do your utmost to search an area that you don't even believe is a likely one for the subject to be in.  While you're wet and cold you'll hear over the radio that the subject was found, and by the time you return to Base Camp, the person you worked so long to help will be long gone.

Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

PCSAR 06/15/2015 (GB).