El Dorado SAR members come from all ages, genders and backgrounds. No special skills are necessary to join.
The membership process is described below. Note that we may change this process slightly for scheduling purposes and the availability of the Administrative Coordinators and SAR Volunteer Training Officers.
To start, you:
- Fill out an application. You can get one from the Administration Coordinator at one of our monthly General Meetings, which are scheduled the second Thursday of every month (with the exception of December). It is several pages long and comes with several different forms to sign. It includes sections on medical conditions, legal history, and other personal information, and all information remains confidential.
- Schedule an interview with the Administration Coordinator. In this informal meeting, you will submit your completed application with proof of your CPR and First Aid certification and a copy of your valid CA drivers License. Once the interview is completed and the application accepted, the background process will begin.
- Have your fingerprints taken. You will be notified by one of the Administration Coordinators to call and schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints taken. This is done at the Sheriff's Office Records Division during business hours.
- Check your background. The Sheriff's Office checks for warrants, and sends your fingerprints to the California Department of Justice for a background check. Once your background is complete, you will be notified and given a "SAR ID" number.
- Assign you an FTO (Field Training Officer) after the initial requirements are completed. He or she will oversee the remainder of your training requirements to include participation in searches.
- Attend meetings and trainings. You are welcome to attend as many meetings and trainings as you have interest and time for. This includes specialty teams such as Canine, Cliff Rescue, and Swiftwater Rescue, and the twice-a-year SAREX (SAR Exercise) weekend.
- Go on searches together with your FTO. When a search happens, the two of you should communicate. That way, if one of you is not able to respond to the search, the other one knows. If your FTO will not be there, you may be able to go out and search with experienced SAR members on a team or may be assigned a job in the Command Post.
- Complete the core classes: Radio Procedures, Aircraft Safety, Land Navigation - Map and Compass, Wilderness Survival, Search Theory, and Man Tracking. All classes are offered at the SAR Academy each year and some individual classes are offered at various times throughout the year.
- "Graduate". The whole process usually takes several months. By the time you finish, you are trained in SAR fundamentals and have several real searches under your belt. You can now serve as a search team member.
For more information or other questions, please contact us.