The work of the Contra Costa County Search and Rescue Team is specialized and the process for joining the team unique. Before attending the mandatory orientation, you may wish to review some of the basics. Below are some of the questions prospective applicants most often ask:
When can I join the team?
We accept applications from February through June of each calendar year for the September Academy. There is only one entry-level Academy each year. If you are planning any trips or vacations in September, you may wish to consider postponing your application, as the Academy classes (nights and weekends) cannot be missed.
How old must I be to join the team?
Anyone age 14 and above may apply; there is no upper age limit. Those under age 18 must be in high school to apply to the Cadet program, which requires parental permission, but otherwise the process to apply and training is the same.
What skills and capabilities must I have in order to apply?
CoCoSAR accepts new members from all walks of life with many different types of experience. While many applicants love the outdoors, levels of outdoor skills vary from none to extensive. Commitment, positive attitude and desire to serve are the qualities that are most appreciated.
What is the health and fitness expectation of applicants?
Because SAR work can be strenuous and vigorous, all applicants must be in good health, capable of lifting 50 pounds and able to pass a minimum fitness test as explained at the orientation.
How much training is required to become a member?
All potential team members must complete the fall Type 3 Academy, which runs for four weeks in September. Academy classes take place on Tuesday and Thursday nights and several weekend days. Completion of the Type 3 Academy is all that is required for membership. Those who wish to do so may continue with additional training.
What type of training will I receive?
The Academy classes cover a broad range of search and rescue skills including search techniques, lost person behavior, navigation, first aid, radio communications and field team leadership. More advanced and in-depth specialized trainings are also offered for those who are interested.
If I’m accepted on the team, when do I start?
Once you receive your acceptance, you will begin your training on the first Tuesday of September with the Type 3 Academy. “Graduation” to becoming a full CoCoSAR member begins at the completion of the Academy, early in October.
What type of equipment do I need?
Team members provide their own personal gear. The team provides the uniform, radios, some safety equipment and specialized equipment as needed.
What is the ongoing commitment expected of team members?
Once you have completed the Academy, there is a full-team training once a month on the second Saturday. Team members are expected to attend at least six of the 12 monthly trainings each year. Participation requirements also include an average of 10 hours per month, or 120 hours per year (including the monthly trainings).
Must I attend a specific number of searches/events?
There is no minimum attendance requirement for searches or medical events. However, you should seriously consider your general availability to respond to search callouts before applying.
Do SAR members get paid?
CoCoSAR is a nonprofit, volunteer organization. There is no monetary compensation for being a SAR member. There is, however, some cost to the individual for personal supplies and equipment, which varies according to the individual.
What is the first step in joining the team?
Begin by attending an orientation to learn about the program. Applications will only be given to those who attend the orientation and who have a valid California ID (driver’s license or state identification card for adults, student ID for Cadets).
When and where are the orientations?
Orientations are on the first Thursday of the month from February through June at the Office of Emergency Services, 50 Glacier Drive, Martinez. Orientations start at 7 p.m. and last approximately 1 to 1½ hours. You need not reserve a spot, but it helps to give us a heads-up by downloading and filling out the New Member Interest Sheet. Deliver it to the office or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the application process?
After completing an application, turn it in to the Office of Emergency Services, 50 Glacier Drive, Martinez, CA 94553; attn.: SAR Human Resources. Oral board interviews typically occur in July. Candidates will learn of their status by August.
What is the deadline to apply?
Applications must be turned in no later than Friday, June 10, for entrance into the 2016 fall Academy.