Frequently Asked Questions By Prospective Personnel

What type of organization is the U.S. SAR Task Force?

The United States Search and Rescue Task Force is a private not-for-profit organization which is a state and federally recognized rescue, disaster response and educational department comprised of dedicated volunteers, and operates similar to a volunteer fire or rescue department in-so-far as dispatch, structure and operations.

In support of our mission statement, we search for and rescue lost persons, provide disaster response and relief and educate the general public and public safety agencies on various related topics. The U.S. SAR Task Force is not a branch of the U.S. Government, but rather serves as a mutual aid organization responding directly to local, state and federal agencies requesting assistance for the expertise that we provide.

Joining the U.S. SAR Task Force is viewed as a privilege as you will get the unique experience of working with and being trained by the best, while at the same time saving the lives of others!

What areas does the U.S. SAR Task Force respond to?

The U.S. SAR Task Force primary response area is within Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, The District of Columbia, New York and Delaware, however, the Task Force will respond to other areas if so requested.

Who calls you out for missions or assistance?

The U.S. SAR Task Force is proud to have specialists who are some of the very few to be requested by local, state and federal agencies.  The expertise of our specialists has been requested by the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Fire Department, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, The United States Government, The United States Army, Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police, Delaware State Police and dozens of other agencies.

How much will the uniform and other equipment cost me?

The U.S. SAR Task Force has strict uniform standards as we realize that we do not get a second chance to make a first impression.  This is one means by which we have placed our personnel on a professional level above all others.  The required uniform is professional in appearance, comfortable and reasonable to replace with cost in mind.  The full uniform will cost approximately $250.00.  

You are asked not to purchase any uniform or equipment until after the Basic Search and Rescue Operations training program, and, your confirming that you can work under and follow the U.S. SAR Task Force regulations.  Further, all uniforms and equipment are tax deductible as well as cleaning of the uniforms.  The only exception to the uniform policy would be for specialty teams such as the CISM team upon waiver of the Chief.

What kind of experience or training do I need?

At the present time, applications are only being accepted from individuals with emergency services experience.  Additional training to enhance your current skills is also available.

What kind of training will I be able to take and is there a charge?

Upon acceptance in to the Task Force, you will need to take Basic Search and Rescue Training, SAR Tech III Training, Emergency Response to Terrorism and First Aid/CPR training, all of which will be taken prior to going on a mission (a waiver may be granted for those holding current certification).   You will be able to take training in numerous other subjects from wilderness first aid to Critical Incident Stress Management and leadership to aircraft crash rescue.  

The U.S. SAR Task Force is also proud to offer the Federal Emergency Management Agency “Community Emergency Response Team” training, as our agency was one of the first in the tri-state area to offer this training. Most of these optional courses that the specialist may elect to take are free of charge or very nominally priced by the various academy’s.

Are you the only search and rescue organization in the tri-state area?

There are literally dozens of organizations that call themselves “search and rescue” teams or organizations in the tri-state area.  Be aware that most of them only maintain a minimum amount of members in order to attempt to carry out a search mission.  Unfortunately, this is detrimental to the searchers, search and rescue teams the community and, the victim due to their lack of training, resources and coordination.  Further, most of them do not  maintain liability insurance.

The U.S. SAR Task Force is the elite of it’s kind on the east coast, maintains liability insurance and, does not charge the public or public safety agencies for its search and rescue and disaster response services.

Do you ever have to search alone?

No!  We have strict standards for searches.  Search Specialists always go out in teams.

How much time will I have to invest if I become a specialist with the U.S. SAR Task Force?

It is understood that people work for a living and have families. To that end, we do understand that our specialists have other responsibilities and cannot make all of the scheduled details, training's and of course, the unscheduled emergency’s and missions.

What happens after I send in my application?

When an application is received by a prospective Specialist, it is then reviewed.  Subsequent to this review, you may be called in for an interview and a background check is also conducted.  Your application is then put before the Chief Officers for final decision and recommendations.   You will be notified of the results which may take a few to several months after we receive the application due to the extensive nature of the process involved.

What will be expected of me?

New personnel enter the department as probationary specialists for a period of six months.  During this period of time, you must complete five classes:  1. First Aid/CPR,   2. Basic search and rescue operations/department policy training,  3. Emergency Response to Terrorism,  4. Hazardous Materials (HazMat) and  5. NASAR  SAR Tech III.  We offer these classes and they must be taken before you can go on a mission.

You will be expected to follow orders of superior officers and to uphold the motto of the Department:    Dedication – Perseverance – Service – “Working Together, So Others May Live.”

How often and where are meetings and training's held?

General meetings are held at various location depending on which Region, District, Company, Unit and Team you are assigned to.  Meetings are staggered for the convenience of the specialists, sometimes held during a weeknight and sometimes on Saturday or Sunday. Meetings/training's for specialty units and teams such as the “Rangers,” Critical Incident Stress Management Team, etc., may be held at different times and locations throughout the month. 

The meeting dates will be set by the Commanders as deemed necessary.  Some may meet monthly or more while others may meet once a year.  Classroom training on numerous topics are held at various locations.

Why is there a fee to become a specialist in the U.S. SAR Task Force?

The initial fee upon entering the Task Force is $50.00.  The majority of this fee is spent on insurance for the year and a background check. 

I was injured in the past while serving the public and now have a disability, can I still help?

Yes!  There is a place for you in our agency.  We currently have numerous positions available.

When I was younger, I got into some legal trouble. Can I still join?

This is dependant.  It is the policy of the U.S. SAR Task Force to conduct background checks on prospective members.   We urge everyone to apply and have their application reviewed.   Disqualification for joining may include those convicted of, or offenses against children, robbery, narcotics and other felony offenses

How many details, training's and missions can I expect during a year?

The U.S. SAR Task Force is proud to state that we see the importance of educating the public regarding search and rescue and disaster response as one of our primary missions, as well as carrying out an actual mission or detail.  While details, training's and missions are voluntary and we realize that you will not always be available, the details and training's are scheduled in advance so that you may attempt to work some of them into your personal schedule.  

In actuality, the more details and training's there are, the easier it is for you to attend some of them by working them into your schedule of available dates.  The majority of these are special details and educational events.   If you choose to participate in a specialty unit/team such as the Critical Incident Stress Management team, etc., you will be devoting more time to training than would a general specialist.

How will I be notified of an emergency mission?

At the time of an emergency mission, contact will be made with the Chief or Assistant Chief who will then review the incoming information and decide on which resources are necessary.  In most cases, you will be contacted in one of two ways.  You may elect to have a group pager.   When a Chief Officer activates the group pagers, all pagers activate at the same time giving the specialists the mission information that they will need to know, such as location, directions, etc. 

If you do not have a group pager, one of the emergency communications coordinators will contact you via telephone.  This can take up to an hour or more depending on others that may have to be called before you. This is one reason why we recommend obtaining the group pager.

What is the structure of the U.S. SAR Task Force?

The U.S. SAR Task Force is structured as are most emergency service organizations.  The Department is overseen by a Chief who is responsible for all operations and personnel.  The Chief in consultation with their Executive Board and Advisory Council, is responsible for all decisions and directives within the Department.  In the department structure, under the Chief would be:  Deputy Chief, Assistant Chiefs, District Chiefs, Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants, Rangers, and Specialists who may specialize in various areas such as search management, medical, CISM, etc.

The U.S. SAR Task Force is a command oriented organization and as a Specialist within the U.S. SAR Task Force, you will be expected to follow all regulations, policies and orders given by superior officers.  If you feel that you cannot follow this policy, it would be best to join another organization with less of a semi-military structure.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here