Training, Qualifications, and Certifications
In accordance with California law, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is charged with providing search and rescue (SAR) services in San Bernardino County. To that end, the Sheriff does this by maintaining volunteer search and rescue teams. San Bernardino County has the largest search and rescue volunteer "department" in the United States with 21 Search and Rescue Teams
Under its SAR Coordinator, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department coordinates all Search and Rescue teams. This position has traditionally been (and is now) filled with persons familiar with search and rescue by having served on a team as a volunteer. The county also operates the Inland Empire Search and Rescue Council (IESRC), which is comprised of a volunteer board made up of members from each of the County's 21 teams.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff understands the need for trained search and rescue professionals, both paid and volunteer. All deputies, supervisors (usually the station's Sergeant), and SAR coordinators attend classes specifically geared toward the management of search and rescue teams. The county has also partnered with the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) to provide search and rescue training to all team members including volunteers. This is at the expense of the county - not the volunteer.
Each search and rescue volunteer must complete a 60-hour Basic Search and Rescue (BSAR) class, and pass both a field and written test. There are three levels of certification based on international standards: SAR TECH I (advanced), SAR TECH II (intermediate), or SAR TECH III (basic). To be activated for field search and rescue, the member must be certified to at least the SAR TECH II level. For Command Post and Administration, a SAR TECH III level is required.
West Valley Search & Rescue Affiliations, Accreditations, and Certifications
- Mountain Rescue Association (MRA)
- National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR)
- California Disaster Service Worker Registration - Office of Emergency Services (OES)
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- California Wilderness Medical Technician (WMT) Pilot Program
- Electronic Location Technology (ELT)
Within San Bernardino County, West Valley Search and Rescue is the only team that:
- All members hold at least the internationally accepted SARTECH II certification
- Holds voting membership with National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR)
- Is certified by the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) for technical winter, technical rope and wilderness searches
- Consistently maintains one of the highest number of team training and volunteer hours per year
- All members are registered as California Disaster Service Volunteer Workers with the Office of Emergency Services (OES)
- Holds nonprofit 501(c)(3) status
With its extensive training, experience, accreditations and certifications, West Valley Search and Rescue also provides mutual aid to nearby San Bernardino County teams and other counties in California under the Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Plan - SAR Annex.