Things to Know Before Joining Garfield County Search and Rescue

Membership in Garfield County Search and Rescue, Inc. shall be determined solely by an individual’s competence, ability, and desire to perform their duties.

Such membership shall not be limited nor withheld on the basis of gender, race, national origin, religious or political beliefs, age, marital status, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.

Applying to Garfield County Search and Rescue

Please Note: We do not have any paid positions or paid members on the team.



We accept the names of people who are interested in joining Garfield County Search and Rescue throughout the year.

If you are interested in applying for membership to GCSAR, please e-mail us at

When the Applicant Coordinator receives the submitted information, you will be contacted in order to answer any questions that you may have about the team and our application process.

Application Process

Our process for accepting new members is as follow:

The minimum age for applying to the team is 18 years old.

We only accept new applications year round.

The first step in the process is to express your interest in applying for membership to GCSAR by e-mail at

When our application process starts in the Spring, you will be invited to attend a mandatory Orientation meeting which will be held toward the end of March.

GCSAR reviews the information provided by each applicant and conducts interviews to evaluate applicants on a number of criteria. Interviews are held throughout the year. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a background check and a driving record check on all of our applicants. After the interviews and the background checks, approved candidates begin our SARTECH II program, which is held from the end of March through the beginning of June.

The class size is limited, so we are not in a position to accept all applicants into the program.


There is a 1 time fee of $40.00 to cover the cost of SARTEC book and materials.


First of all, thank you for your interest in Garfield County Search and Rescue. Search and rescue work is a noble avocation.

Being a member of GCSAR may not be as glorified as you think. Please read on and see if this sounds interesting to you.

Mountain search and rescue is challenging yet fulfilling, rewarding but demanding, frequently a lot of work, and occasionally a lot of fun.

We are search and rescue professionals. We are trained and tested against rigorous search and rescue standards that have been established by the Search and Rescue community. We receive no wages for our efforts. If you’re up to the task, and really didn’t want to be wealthy anyway, read on…

The average Team member spends over 400 hours a year in training classes, field practices, Public Education programs, fund-raising events, and, about 5 times a month, there will be a search or rescue mission. Each member purchases between $ 1,500.00 and $ 3,000.00 worth of personal equipment depending on their field rating and what they might already own.

Our typical mission starts at night, lasts all night, and finishes early the next morning. We experience the joy of returning a lost loved one, the shock of traumatic injury, the tragedy of suicide, or our worst possible mission, the death of the person we were trying to help.

Your availability to leave what you are doing for a mission at any time, day or night, weekend or weekday, is critical to your success and contribution to the team.

Prior SAR Experience

If you have prior search and rescue experience, you are required to go through our SARTECH II program.

The purpose of SARTECH II is:

  • train new members
  • demonstrate proficiency in SAR skills that you may already have
  • learn team practices, operating procedures, and standards
  • evaluate new members
  • meld and incorporate new members into the team
  • develop a rapport with current team members
  • develop an understanding of our training procedures
  • focus on the new members and their performance
  • refresher for current team members

Search and Rescue (SAR) Dog Training

If you are interested in training a dog for search and rescue work, please let us know. Training a SAR Dog is something that you can start on immediately.

You can also help our dog handlers train their dogs by being subjects for the dogs to find during field training sessions. Please let us know if you are interested in this. However, being a subject for the dog handlers does not guarantee membership.


Our SARTECH II program is held in the Spring typically from March to the first part of June. There are approximately 28 classroom and field sessions. Meetings are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with a few Saturdays and/or Sundays.

SARTECH is composed of individual class and field sessions where applicants are exposed to basic Search and Rescue techniques in the classroom and then these techniques are applied in field training sessions. Classes include knot tying, basic rope and rescue rigging, search tactics and techniques, search and rescue dogs, navigation, and individual and team equipment just to name a few.

SARTECH participants will be provided a list of required and recommended gear necessary for field work. We will teach you all you need to know about Search and Rescue.

Failure to attend the majority of SARTECH II training sessions is sufficient grounds to not accept a candidate for membership.

What do I do while I am waiting for the Application process to start? You ask.

Physical Fitness

Get physically fit. Search and Rescue work is physically demanding. You should be able to hike four miles over varied terrain with a minimum of 1,000 feet of elevation gain carrying a 25 to 40 pound pack and complete this in 3 hours.

You can try the wildland firefighter test by hiking 3 miles on level terrain with a 45 pound pack in 45 minutes. No jogging or running is permitted.

Medical Training

Get some medical training. We recommend you take a medical course that has a wilderness emphasis, such as Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, or Wilderness EMT. In lieu of that take a First Responder or EMT course. Even if you are not accepted on the team, the skills you learn and the knowledge you gain will be invaluable.

Other Things to Do

  • Familiarize yourself with Garfield County. Hike the popular trails. Find the local climbing, fishing and camping spots.
  • Familiarize yourself with the local topographical maps.
  • Save money for gear. In SARTECH II you will learn what specific gear you’ll be required to carry on missions.
  • Break in good quality waterproof hiking boots.
  • Start training your own search dog. This can take up to 2 years so start early!! Contact us for more info.
  • Plan your schedule so you can attend all the SARTECH trainings. We understand the commitment. We have all done it. We want you to learn SAR techniques at all the trainings. They are all important. Otherwise we would not teach it to you.


On-going Training and Other Team Activities

When SARTECH is completed, it is not the end of SAR training. We train throughout the year in various SAR disciplines.

Team members are also encouraged to get involved in the other activities that we do such as teaching public education classes, fund-raising, administrative duties, and of course search and rescue missions.

General Team Schedule

Day Start Time Activity
1st Thursday 7:00 PM Classroom Training
1st Weekend 8:00 AM Field Training
3rd Thursday 7:00 PM Board Meeting
Note: Weekend sessions alternate on Saturday and Sunday. The whole day is devoted to training.
Some weekend field sessions may be on a Saturday and Sunday which typically includes an overnight stay.