Search and Rescue Control (SARC) was organized in 1966 with a few Sheriff Posse members and citizen band radio operators. It is now a non-profit organization with several individual clubs or groups. Excluding the officials of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), SARC is strictly a volunteer organization. All manpower and personal equipment is given as needed. When working on an official mission, all volunteers (as required by Colorado law) are under the jurisdiction of the MCSO. When a request for assistance is made by the MCSO, SARC volunteers are dispatched as needed to complete the mission. These volunteers may be on foot, horseback, ATV, boat, or snowmobile as needed. Whatever the conditions, members do their best to meet those demands.
SARC consists of a variety of specialized teams to meet the needs of various searches and rescue operations. These teams designate members to serve on the SARC board. Each team trains in their specialty on their own time providing their own equipment. They also coordinate services with other teams and Sheriff's Office personnel. Each team also provides support personnel for incident command as needed.
Search and Rescue Teams
- Mesa County Sheriff's Posse: Ground searches by horse.
- Technical Rescue Team: Technical climbing skills for high angle rescue.
- Mesa County Search and Rescue Ground Team: Ground search and rescue.
- Mesa County Dive Team: Dive recovery and swift water rescue.
- Swift Water Rescue Team: Jet boat search and recovery on the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers.
- Communications Team: Provide technical staffing for all communications.
- Snowskippers: Winter search and rescue operations with snowmobiles.
- Western Slope ATV: Ground search and rescue with ATVs.
- Dog Team: Provides K-9 search and rescue support.
Joining Search and Rescue
If you wish to join SARC you can download a Search And Rescue Application here or come to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office Records Desk and ask for one. The completed application must indicate which team you wish to join. The application is forwarded to the appropriate team leader for review of qualifications and team needs. Your application must indicate which team(s) you are interested in joining.
Many of these teams require members to have technical training, special equipment and certification standards before members are accepted. SARC membership requires continued training, meetings, and commitment of your personal time. All SARC members must complete an MCSO background check.
Many teams have full staffing levels and there may not be immediate openings. A team leader will respond to your application. For additional information click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I activate Search and Rescue?
Any call to 911 will begin the process. If you are using a cell phone and are in the roaming mode you may contact an emergency center outside of the area you expected. Always provide the 911 operator with your name, contact number, location and the nature of your emergency. The 911 operator will notify the appropriate SAR coordinator to provide assistance to you.
Is there a charge for Search and Rescue?
The Mesa County Sheriff does not charge for search and rescue. Medical units from Fire Departments, Hospitals or Ambulance providers may charge for medical services and transport. Do not wait to call for assistance because you are worried about a bill. Remember Search is an emergency! You may purchase a CORSAR card at one of over 300 vendors in the state. The CORSAR card helps defray the costs associated with Search and Rescue operations.
Should I carry a cellular phone while in the backcountry?
Cellular phones are a big help if there is an emergency. But remember there is not cell phone coverage available in all of Mesa County due to terrain and distance. Your Cell provider may not have service in an area where you are experiencing an emergency. Always make sure your battery is fully charged before entering the backcountry. Turn your phone off to save power until it is needed. Don't plan your survival tactics solely on a cell phone.
Should I carry a GPS?
Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) is a great electronic tool for establishing your location or the direction and distance to a known location (waypoint). GPS use requires practice with the instrument to understand how to use it. Because they are electronic they require batteries and they can occasionally fail. Search and Rescue teams train routinely with the GPS and use it. But they never venture into the field without a compass and the knowledge of how to use the compass for navigation. We encourage that both be utilized together.
What are the PLBs I have been reading about?
A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is a radio transmitter that relays an emergency signal to a satellite in case of emergency activation. From the satellite the received information is relayed to search and rescue teams. All the satellite knows is that the PLB has been activated and the approximate location from which it is sending signals. PLBs do not tell the Search and Rescue Teams what kind of emergency exists. Search teams do not know if they are responding to a lost person, a medical emergency, or an avalanche. It should be only activated in severe emergency. All SAR resources are deployed because the type of emergency is unknown.
Going to explore the outdoors?
Make sure you are prepared! Whether you are going on the river, hiking, biking, or recreating outdoors, it's important to be prepared. Weather can change rapidly and accidents can happen. Check out these important Safety Tips.
Do you have a CORSAR Card?
If you ever need Search and Rescue it helps us pay for the cost! By purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card you are contributing to the Search and Rescue Fund, which will reimburse these teams for costs incurred in search and rescues across the State of Colorado. The CORSAR card is available for $3 for a one-year card and $12 for five-year card. Click here to get yours today!