Marin County Sheriff's Office
Search & Rescue

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Due to the current situation with COVID-19 and continuing uncertainty about holding future group trainings, we are not conducting a fall 2020 or spring 2021 recruitment cycle. We also are not holding in-person general meetings that prospective members can attend and do not know when those might resume.

We know this is disappointing for prospective members, as it is for those of us on the team, but we have had to make this difficult decision for safety reasons. If the situation changes, we will update the website.

Marin County Search and Rescue is staffed with people of various ages, backgrounds, and experience levels. We all share a common interest in serving our community and helping others. Most members are avid outdoors people — climbers, hikers, backpackers, cyclists, and runners. We maintain active membership at around 100 people. To maintain our staffing levels, we operate two recruitment periods each year. Normally, one begins in late winter and a second takes place in late summer. Our next application deadline will likely be in summer 2021 depending on the pandemic status. The application link will be posted a month before the application deadline.

We suggest you read what we do and the latest mission summaries to give you a better idea of our team.

If you are interested in knowing more about our team, you are invited to attend any of our General Meetings (listed on this site’s calendar). We also strongly suggest that you review the Frequently Asked Questions outlined in the link below.

For your application to be considered, you must attend at least two recent General Meetings (by the application deadline) and preferably several more. Attending meetings helps you get a feel for our team and the commitment required, and gives our members a chance to get to know you. It also provides you with a good overview of our scope of operations.

We require a minimum active commitment of two years, and hopefully many more. This means potential youth members should apply in their freshman or sophomore year. We sometimes consider juniors in the fall cycle, but give preference to those who can serve longer. In addition, youth applicants must be at least 14 years of age and in high school by the first day of boot camp.

Keep in mind this is not a typical volunteer opportunity. We are looking for people with uncommon dedication and a schedule allowing for potentially hundreds of hours of commitment per year. SAR is not a good fit for otherwise busy and highly scheduled people…

If you are the parent of a prospective youth member, your child needs to be the point of contact with us! We demand a lot from youth members and expect adult-level engagement from them.

We occasionally have situations where multiple family members wish to join SAR. While we do have some situations like that, it is not common. The application process is very competitive so it’s fairly unlikely multiple family members will be selected for the team. You should assume you are applying as an individual, and that other family members may not have the opportunity to join the team.

All residents of Marin County meet the geographic requirements. Any prospective member outside Marin County must be able to respond to the SAR headquarters within ~30 minutes from callout. Applicants from areas and counties other than Marin will also be evaluated on many factors such as availability, training, skill and experience. The new member selection committee will review the qualifications of all such applicants and will base any selection on those qualifications and the needs of the team.

For many people, volunteering for search and rescue is a rewarding and often fun experience, but it’s important to recognize it also can be very difficult at times. SAR missions sometimes involve violent crime scenes, finding or assisting in the recovery of human remains, providing medical assistance to severely injured persons and other difficult circumstances. SAR members may also interact with family members or friends of the subject of a SAR mission who are emotionally distressed. The team offers support to members to help process and cope with difficult situations and members can select out of assignments if necessary. SAR missions can be emotionally challenging and it’s important for people who choose to volunteer for SAR to be confident that they feel emotionally resilient enough for the work and have sound mental health.

Note our Marin SAR policy on drug use:

  • Marijuana – disqualified if used within 6 months of application date (including medical marijuana!)

  • Hash or hash oil – disqualified if used within the past 3 years

  • Amphetamines – disqualified if used within the past 5 years (unless prescribed to you and not abused)

  • Cocaine powder – disqualified is used within the past 5 years

  • CNS / Barbiturates – disqualified if used within the past 5 years

  • Quaaludes – disqualified if used within the past 5 years

  • Amyl Nitrate – disqualified if used within the past 5 years

  • Synthetic / designer drugs – disqualified if used within the past 5 years

  • Steroids – disqualified if used within the past 5 years (unless prescribed to you and not abused)

  • Mushrooms—disqualified if used within the past 5 years

  • Crack cocaine – disqualified if ever used

  • Heroin – disqualified if ever used

  • Opiates – disqualified if ever used (unless prescribed to you and not abused)

  • LSD – disqualified if ever used

  • Methadone – disqualified if ever used

  • PCP – disqualified if ever used

  • Toluene or Inhalants – disqualified if ever used

All new members must meet our basic fitness requirement before attending boot camp. If you are selected for boot camp, you will be required to complete the following basic fitness test in less than 1 hour and 35 minutes carrying a 25lb backpack. We will schedule a couple of testing dates between your interview night and the start of boot camp. We urge you to try the following hike before applying so there are no surprises down the road!

Here’s a map of the test — it’s a 4.0 mile loop with 1,500 feet of elevation gain. It starts just off Lucas Valley Road at the tennis courts located at the junction of Luiz Fire Rd and Creekside Dr. Continue counterclockwise from there around the loop.

An interactive version of the map route is AVAILABLE HERE.

Basic fitness test map with elevation profile
Basic fitness test topographic map

Our training calendar is very dynamic, just like our team.  Please check it frequently to see what events are open to prospective members and also to confirm the location and time of trainings. General Meetings are at the new Sheriff’s Office Emergency Operations Facility (directions and a map). The date or location for a meeting may change, so please check our calendar before heading to a meeting!

The SAR application will be posted a month before the application deadline. Once you’ve completed the application, submit it and print a copy for yourself before closing your browser. You will be able to edit your responses after submission (while the browser is still open). Read the application carefully before you begin to ensure you have all the required information. Make sure you have a good internet connection and plenty of time to complete the application. Google Chrome is the best browser to use with this application.

Finally, interest in our team has grown substantially over the past few years. We have limited resources and equipment to train new members and can only accomodate a portion of the applicants in each cycle. Some applicants are successful in subsequent cycles while others, unfortunately, may never have the opportunity to join the team.

CANCELED, but here for reference:

If you have any unanswered questions about the unit or have issues with the electronic application, feel free to our personnel manager.