Search & Rescue
About Search & Rescue
The elected Sheriff is responsible for all Search and Rescue activities within Douglas County, as defined by Oregon Revised Statue Chapter 404. The responsibility for Search and Rescue operations may be delegated by the Sheriff to a deputy or other qualified person.
Search and Rescue is defined by law as: "Acts of searching for, rescuing or recovering, by means of ground or marine activity, any person who is lost, injured or killed while out-of-doors."
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue program is very robust comprised of a Division Lieutenant, 2 full-time SAR Deputies, numerous on-call Search and Rescue Managers and over 100 dedicated volunteers.
Douglas County Search & Rescue Units
The following SAR units provide services in our community. Membership is restricted to approved applicants. All SAR unit membership is open to both male and female. No applicant will be denied membership meeting unit criteria, on the basis of race, creed, color, religion or sex. The application is essentially the same for all units; you will need to fill out an application turn it into the Sheriff's Office. All applicants will have a background, criminal history, and driving record check. Applications and information can be obtained from any SAR unit or from the Sheriff's Office.
- SAR Communications Team: This unit assists with communication between searchers in the field and search management teams at the command post, disseminating information and transcribing radio traffic during missions.
- Douglas County Mounted Search and Rescue: Equestrian unit open to all persons 21 years or older. Must have access or means to transport horse(s).
- Douglas County Ground Search and Rescue: The purpose of the Douglas County Ground SAR is to perform general search and rescue tasks over various terrain types in all weather conditions. This is the vast majority of members in SAR. Many of these members are also involved in the other groups as well. Along with SAR missions on the ground, this group also supports the Sheriff when called upon to assist with emergency evacuations, traffic control at large events and other tasks as necessary.
- Douglas County 4x4 Search and Rescue: The purpose of the 4x4 SAR team is to provide a team that is capable of responding in almost any weather or terrain. The 4x4 SAR team will provide a "containment" search capability, which means the team will be deployed on roads around the area were a subject is reported missing. The team will also function as a transportation unit, providing equipment operators and vehicles to operate specialty vehicles such as ATVs and to transport searchers.
- Douglas County Snow Cat: This team have extensive training involving snow rescues. The snow cat team operates a Tucker Snow Cat along with specifically equipped UTVs to conduct these types of operations. The Snow Cat team works in conjunction with 4x4 teams and Mountain Rescue teams.
- Douglas County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (DCARES): DCARES is a group of amateur radio operators willing to assist SAR, emergency management and other agencies during emergencies or community events. DCARES is part of the American Radio Relay League.
- Douglas County Sheriff's Office Dive Team: Underwater (SCUBA) rescue and recovery team. This is a hybrid team of volunteers and Sheriff's Office employees. **Note: We are not currently accepting applications for this team.
- Douglas K-9 Search and Rescue: This unit utilizes trained dog and handler teams in an effort to help locate missing persons and evidence for SAR.
- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): This unit is for those members who have the skills and certification needed to perform search missions when unmanned aerial assets are deemed to be useful.
- Logistics: This unit supports searchers and search management teams by transporting, housing and supplying equipment and resources on missions and activities. Some examples would be food, shelter (i.e. tents, heaters) and arranging transportion.
- Mountain Rescue: This unit's specialty is alpine and vertical (rope rescue). The Mountain Rescue unit also provides ground search functions when applicable.
- Tracking: The tracking team is a trained group of SAR members who have special skills in reading sign and tracking subjects over various terrains.
Applying for Search & Rescue
If you want to join Search and Rescue please print the Application (PDF) and return it to the Sheriff's Office, Search and Rescue Division. The application has to be a signed original (we can not accept a faxed or emailed application).
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office follows the Oregon Sheriffs' Association's and Oregon Emergency Management's "Minimum Standards for SAR Certification Training." The document that outlines these standards is available at the Sheriff's Office.
SAR Training Academy
The 2022 Douglas County SAR Training Academy has begun and the training calendar is currently available to active volunteers.
Douglas County and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association are part of the HikeSafe coalition. HikeSafe's goal is to promote hiker safety and awareness. Please check out the HikeSafe Website for information that relates to almost all outdoor recreation.
Read the Outdoor Travel Tips and Outdoor Travel Essentials to help plan a safe wilderness trip, then complete the Trip Plan Form (Parts 1 and 2) (PDF), and leave them with a trusted family member or friend.