`Ventura County Search & Rescue, Fillmore Mountain Rescue Team 1
About the Team
Team History
Meet the Team
Hiking Tips & Plan
Photo Gallery
Join the Team
Support the Team
Helpful Links
Return to Home Page

About the Team

Ventura County Search & Rescue is an all-volunteer branch of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office covering all 1,873 square miles of Ventura County including the 43 miles of coastline. The team is trained to use specialized equipment to handle a variety of emergencies such as high-angle rock rescues, car-over-the-side accidents, swift-water rescues and other wilderness medical emergencies. The team is also highly proficient in search operations for overdue hikers, mountain bikers, off road motorcyclers, missing children or lost hunters.

In addition to search and rescue operations, the team also provides community education through its presentations of the "Hug-a-Tree" program for children and support of various civic and nonprofit activities. We also do a lot of things that are not listed here or in the brochure!

Who are we?

The team is made up of dedicated men and women from all walks of life, providing search and rescue services to Ventura County as a professionally trained organization. Most team members are active in many varieties of outdoor activities and recognize their abilities to assist those in need.

How much time does it take up?

Lots! Each member can spend literally hundreds of hours a year on team activities. Training is one week night and one weekend day (Saturday) each month. Additional training opportunities include a second weekend training day, which is optional. Take a look at our Training Calendar. In addition to skills training, administrative aspects of the team must be attended to and equipment must be checked monthly to ensure the team is prepared. Those deeply committed to the team give many hours a month of their free time.

There are also special courses, such as Emergency Medical Technician and Swift-water Rescue Technician. The team also participates in other activities like public relations or education. Between the training and maintenance, the team consumes much of its members' free time.

How often is the team called out?

All team members are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and are paged to respond by the Ventura County Sheriff's Air Unit/Substation. During holidays and summer when there are lots of people in the back country we can get busy. We are always on call for incidents like car-over-the-side accidents and missing individuals. In addition, the Sheriff's Office may call us to aid in evidence searches or body recoveries, so we consistently receive call-outs throughout the year.

How long do the calls take?

It varies tremendously. In rescue situations, where the location of the subject is known, the call can last anywhere from a few hours to several hours, depending on the location and terrain. In search situations, the call can last anywhere from an hour to several days.

What area does the team cover?

We cover all of Ventura County's 1,873 Square Miles of terrain. This includes front side of Mount Pinos, Hungry Valley Recreational area, Los Padres National Forest, and the Santa Monica Recreational area. Assisting other teams will take us from right next door into Santa Barbara , Kern, and Los Angeles Counties to more distant regions such as elsewhere in California

Where does the money come from for all this?

There is some funding from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. This goes towards the team's significant expenses for equipment such as ropes, rescue hardware, stretchers, medical and trauma treatment equipment, and so forth. This is insufficient to cover expenses. The team also receives donations from charitable foundations, grateful individuals and families. Fundraising and grant applications require significant effort and account for a major portion of the team's funds for purchasing vehicles and other equipment.

Do you get paid?

No. Everybody is a volunteer, providing their own time for training, team administration, and searches. In addition everyone provides the required personal equipment. We are regularly asked about employment or career opportunities. Because everybody is a volunteer, the normal concepts of employment or career do not apply.

What about dogs?

Currently VCSAR has a certified dog team. The dog teams are trained extensively in search operations as well as Area, Trailing and Cadaver location.

What other organizations does VCSAR work with?

We work with a variety of other EMS agencies. On any call, we can be working closely with Ventura County Fire, Forest Service, State Parks, other SAR teams, LA County Fire, EMS Providers and CHP. This close interaction with other emergency services requires that every team member be highly trained and that we work in a very professional manner.

Are there other teams?

Yes, Each County in the state has their own team. In larger, more diverse counties like Ventura , there are 7 search and rescue teams which include, Fillmore, Ojai, and East Valley Mountain Teams, Underwater/Dive Team, Posse Team, Medical Team, and the Dog Team. Counties such as Los Angeles County, there are several teams. Take a look at the Links page for information on other teams.

What kind of skills and equipment do I need?

Due to the large variety of mountain and wilderness situations the team can be exposed to, it is simply difficult to provide "from the ground up" training in all of these. The objective of team training is to enhance existing skills, not teach novice ones. Potential team member should have outdoor experience in activities such as hiking, climbing, mountaineering, back country skiing, and navigation. Experience working in a variety of environments is very desirable since we can be working in 100+ degree weather or in the snow. No one joins the team with a full set of skills, but if you have never hiked a trail, VCSAR is not for you.

A related subject is equipment. It's assumed that aspiring team members are already experienced "outdoors-type" people. As such, they are likely to own the appropriate outdoor equipment, such as backpacks, boots, clothing, and so forth. Team members must be able to travel through a mountain environment in any weather for extended periods of time, and thus need the personal equipment required to do this. Specialized equipment is provided by the team; however, the vast majority of equipment required is normal outdoor gear and must purchased by the applicant. Those starting with nothing can spend several hundred dollars on gear. It is recommended that applicants wait to purchase gear until equipment is discussed in the academy.

Can you tell me more about the time commitment?

This point cannot be emphasized enough. The team will consume a very large proportion of your once-free time. Team members are expected to attend a minimum of 70% of the trainings and 50% of the call-outs. While everyone is a volunteer, VCSAR is looking for people who are willing to give more than the minimum. Many calls occur outside of work hours, but your employer must be able to tolerate you suddenly leaving. People who travel often and are not available when required, generally cannot commit to the team.

An Invitation

If you enjoy the outdoors, learning new skills, and working as part of a team, then you are an excellent candidate for VCSAR. Search and rescue is extremely demanding, requiring highly trained and physically fit members. If, after reading all of the above, spending a few days thinking about it, discussing it with your loved ones, you're still interested, think some more! If you're still interested after all that, learn how to join the team.

Ventura County Sheriff's Volunteer Search & Rescue  |  Fillmore Mountain Rescue  |  Team 1
Mailing Address:  P.O. Box 296 |  Fillmore, CA  93016
email us!


2005 Ventura County Sheriff's Volunteer Search & Rescue, Fillmore Mountain Rescue, Team 1