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 motorcyclists, missing children or lost hunters.
In the late 1940s, local equestrians would ban together to search for fellow cowboys and farmers who were either missing or injured in the backcountry of Ventura County. The Sheriff of Ventura County approached the local group, and in 1948 the “Fillmore Search and Rescue Team” was formally organized and sanctioned by the Sheriff’s Office. Fillmore became the first Search and Rescue Team in the County.
The team would primarily search on horseback because of the rough terrain. In areas where vehicles were practical, the members would use their four-wheel-drive trucks. In the late 1950s, the Sheriff’s Office augmented these privately owned vehicles with surplus military four-wheel-drive vehicles. On occasion, when horses could not access the victim, a helicopter would be contracted with Rotor Aids of Ventura. In the early 1970s, the Sheriff’s Office formed its Air Unit, and Search & Rescue began to acquire newer vehicles and equipment supplied by the Sheriff’s Office.