El Dorado County (EDC) contains one of the most diversified and heavily-used recreational areas in California, with approximately one million acres of national forest land. EDC is also home to the federally- protected Desolation Wilderness Area, in which mechanized vehicles are prohibited. Popular recreational uses include hiking, camping, geo-caching, rock climbing, river rafting, hunting and much more.
The diversity of recreational opportunities draws over one million visitors annually. Should any of these recreationists be reported as missing, stranded and/or injured, El Dorado County Search and Rescue Team (EDSAR) responds.
We have one of the most specialty-comprehensive search and rescue teams in California, with (often advanced) capabilities in:
• Search Management
• K-9 (CARDA-certified)
• Mounted (equestrian)
• Ground Trackers
• Off Highway Vehicle
• Swift Water Rescue
• Technical Rope Rescue
Air resources are also available to assist in search missions and medical rescue operations. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) assists on search missions and medical rescue/transport operations and the California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) offers air ambulance support. If CHP and/or CALSTAR are unavailable, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services may submit a formal mutual aid request to the California Office of Emergency Services for aircraft from the California National Guard or the U.S. Naval Station in Fallon, Nevada.
Approximately 40 percent of our members are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) or First Responders, and approximately 50 percent are licensed amateur radio operators (HAM).
EDSAR’s responses are not limited to wilderness areas. We also respond:
• in suburban and rural areas for lost children, or persons with various mental impairments (such as Autism or Alzheimer’s) that have wandered off
• to mutual aid requests from other counties that are in need of additional help or specialty teams
• as registered “Disaster Service Workers” for mass evacuation needs in disasters such as wildland fires
• as a community service, providing first aid and lost person assistance at many community events
EDSAR has volunteers that reside in El Dorado, Sacramento, and Placer counties and are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many volunteers are also registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for on-call disaster assistance, both domestically and internationally.
Volunteer and Training Requirements
We welcome all volunteers, regardless of experience. However, the EDC Sheriff’s Office requires that prospective new members are certified in CPR and First Aid, and pass a background check prior to their approval to becoming a volunteer. New members then receive training in:
• Map/compass/GPS land navigation
• Radio communications
• Wilderness survival
• Helicopter safety
• Crime scene preservation
• Interviewing skills
• Critical incident stress debriefing
• Search theory
• Other specialties
Members refresh their core competencies biennially. Additionally, individual teams conduct ongoing and supplementary training specific to their discipline, and joint training opportunities are available with our air support providers (CHP, CALSTAR and the U.S. National Guard).