There are four steps in the membership process:

  1. How to join an existing Search & Rescue Team
  2. How a Search & Rescue Team joins the SAR Council
  3. How to obtain an MOU with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is required for a group to be recognized as a state resource. If you have additional questions, please contact the President.

How to join an existing Search & Rescue Team

Select a discipline of search & rescue that you are interested in. Next look at the members list for a team in (or close to) your area. Each team has their own terms for membership, however most will require some type of background check. Contact that team for information.

Become a Member of the SAR Council

By attending quarterly meetings and arranging for sponsorship.

Acquire a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with VDEM

All applicants for an MOU must be a member of the Virginia Search and Rescue Council (SAR Council)

Applicants must submit a copy of their bylaws, certification and training standards (one for each discipline they practice, i.e. ground search, management, air scent dog handling, etc.), roster of membership, and call-out procedures to the SAR Council MOU Review Committee. Applicants must also submit applicant fee (contact Treasurer for fee) to the SAR Council for processing

All documents are reviewed to ensure that they are adequate for the group. Certification and training standards are reviewed against those adopted by the state to ensure that they are equivalent or above state standards by the committee. If any deficits are found recommended changes are given to the group and they are given an opportunity to revise their documents.

Once documentation is in order, the applying group is contacted to set up a training event or mock search so that evaluators who practice the same discipline as the team being tested may observe them practicing their skills. Applying groups are evaluated on how well they are able to meet their own written certification and training standards.

Once evaluators are satisfied that applying groups can work to their own standards and understand the state system, the evaluation team will advise the SAR Council President who will inform the State SAR Coordinator in writing that this team is recommended for a MOU.

Upon receipt of this letter the SAR Coordinator will draw up an agreement with the specific group and send it to them for signature and other important information.

Once signed the applicant group will return the original MOU to the SAR Coordinator who will review it and have it signed by the State Emergency Management Coordinator. Once that is done the original will state on file at the Department of Emergency Management and a copy will go to the group for their use in complying with the terms.