During holidays and summer, when there are a lot of people in the backcountry, we can get swamped. We are always on-call for incidents like vehicle-over-the-side accidents and missing individuals. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office may call us to aid in evidence searches or body recoveries, so we consistently receive calls throughout the year.
The duration of calls for service can vary tremendously depending on the type of request, location, weather, etc. Rescue situations where the subject’s location is known can last between a couple of hours to over a day, depending on the area, terrain, and conditions. In search situations, the call can last anywhere from an hour to several days.
Each team member can spend hundreds of hours per year on team activities, including meetings, training, events, and calls for service. Meetings are one weeknight per month and training is one weekend day per month for all team members. For probationary members, and optional for most of the team, there will be one additional weeknight and one extra weekend day of training per month for the first six months. To be prepared for call-outs, the team must also attend to administrative tasks and check and clean equipment monthly and after training, events, and call-outs. Those deeply committed to the team can give many hours per month of their free time. Please see our training calendar for more information on upcoming events and training.
With the exception of our Deputy Liaison, everybody on our team is an unpaid volunteer. Volunteers provide their own time for training, team administration, and searches. Also, everyone purchases their own personal equipment. The benefits you’ll receive from being a member of Fillmore Search and Rescue far exceed financial gain. You’ll get the satisfaction of rescuing individuals who are lost, injured, and scared. None of us our here for money – we’re here to render assistance so that others may live.
The wide variety of mountain and wilderness terrain in Ventura County can present many different challenges, and it is difficult to provide training “from the ground up.” The objective of team training is to enhance existing skills, not teach novice ones. Potential team members should have outdoor experience in activities that include hiking, climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and navigation. Experience working in a variety of environments is very desirable since we could be working anywhere from 100+ degree weather in Fillmore to the single digits in the Sierra. No one joins the team with a full set of skills, but some outdoor experience is a must.
As far as equipment, aspiring team members should already be experienced in the outdoors. 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 an unfamiliar environment in any weather for extended periods, and thus need the personal equipment required to do so. The team provides specialized equipment, but most of the necessary equipment is standard outdoor gear the applicant will need to acquire. Those starting with nothing can easily spend several hundred dollars on gear. Applicants should wait to purchase gear until the academy discusses equipment.
If you enjoy the outdoors, learning new skills, and working as part of a team, you may be an excellent candidate for VCSAR. Search and Rescue is hugely demanding and requires highly trained and physically fit members. If you would like to dedicate the time to become a volunteer member of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, please fill out the online application at the link below. Please be patient, as we only conduct physical ability tests and interviews once per year but will keep you updated with these events. Teams also have a limit on the number of members and maybe full at any given time. Once offered a spot on VCSAR1, you will undergo a thorough background check by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and receive notification of the probationary requirements.