Press Kit

King County Sheriff's Office, Search And Rescue back to top

The King County Sheriff's Office is responsible for search and rescue activities in the unincorporated areas of King County as well as our contract cities under the mandates of R.C.W. 38.52. Each year, volunteer groups along with Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue personnel respond to numerous incidents involving lost or injured hikers, hunters and children. SAR volunteers also assist in times of natural disasters like flooding, windstorms and earthquakes.

King County Search And Rescue Association back to top

King County Search and Rescue Association (KCSARA) is an umbrella organization currently made up of eight member units, comprising more than 500 active members who volunteer a considerable amount of time, personal equipment, and knowledge, to help those in need. Each year we respond to more than 100 missions ranging from searching for missing children and adults in urban areas throughout King County, rescuing lost and injured recreationists in our forests and wilderness, and locating critical evidence at crime scenes for local law enforcement.

Member Units back to top

There's more to know about the organizations that participate in King County Search and Rescue and are always there to help.

King County 4x4 Search and Rescue back to top

King County 4x4 Search And Rescue (4x4) has been active in King County since 1954. 4X4 currently has over 100 active members skilled in using electronic equipment to locate downed aircraft, in wilderness and off-road navigation and in radio communications. Its primary mission is to provide transportation to other search and rescue organizations through the use of all terrain vehicles that are capable of negotiating routes that would not be passable by conventional vehicles. This unit is also capable of conducting night road searches, traffic control, radio relay and helicopter ground support.

King County Explorer Search And Rescue back to top

King County Explorer Search And Rescue (ESAR) was founded in 1954 as the first youth based search and rescue team in the nation. ESAR is the county's primary ground search and non-technical rescue unit, and responds to over 60 missions a year in both King County and around the state of Washington. King County ESAR is highly committed to its youth members, but also welcomes older volunteers as field team members and in various supporting roles.

King County Incident Support Team back to top

King County Incident Support Team (IST) is a group of highly motivated volunteers, skilled in communications, navigation, and base camp operations. This unit assists King County and other SAR units with: Communications, Incident Record Keeping, Debriefings, and Logistics. This team serves the King County Sheriff's Office and the people of King County by making those operations as efficient and effective as possible.

King County Search Dogs back to top

King County Search Dogs (KCSD) provides canine search services within King County. All handlers are volunteers and provide their own dogs and outdoor equipment. Each team trains in a primary area, either air scent search (to locate any human within the teams search area) or tracking/trailing (following the scent path of a specific individual). Teams also train in specialty search areas such as evidence search, water search, disaster or avalanche search.

Northwest Horseback Search And Rescue back to top

Members of Northwest Horseback Search And Rescue (NWHSAR) are qualified horse owners who volunteer their time as a horse and rider team to aid in the search for lost, injured or missing persons. Teams may also assist in transportation of equipment such as medical supplies, litters, radios, etc. Members are trained in wilderness navigation, first aid, search techniques and survival skills, all working within a team environment.

Pacific Northwest Trackers back to top

Pacific Northwest Trackers Association (PNWT) is a fully qualified, non-profit organization dedicated to using tracking skills for search and rescue. Their capabilities are used in "lost person" and evidence searches and they have also developed a training program to teach tracking skills to other interested groups.

Seattle Mountain Rescue back to top

Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR) is a volunteer organization of more than 100 mountain climbers dedicated to saving lives through back-country search and rescue and mountain safety education. They specialize in "high angle" and "high hazard" operations, but also have a wealth of experience in all phases of low country search and rescue.

Ski Patrol Rescue Team back to top

Ski Patrol Rescue Team (SPART) is the medical provider for King County Search And Rescue Association, a volunteer group offering services to King County Sheriff's Office. SPART consists of more than 70 dedicated members who donate their time and resources to maintain and utilize a high skill level as backcountry medical providers for the citizens and guests of King County, Washington. Due to our membership's background with winter travel, SPART also leads KCSARA in avalanche expertise and training.

Member Unit Qualifications back to top

A member unit of King County Search And Rescue Association (KCSARA) must be a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation; may not exclude membership in their Unit based on gender, race, or religion; shall be headquartered in King County; Shall require all members to register as Emergency Service Workers with King County; Must have a minimum of seven members certified by the King County Sheriff's Office; and have its training standards approved and on file with KCSARA.

Operational Committees and Special Projects back to top

The RAD Team back to top

The Rapid Alpine Deployment Team (RAD) is a program started in 2002 to reduce the response time between a wilderness emergency being reported to 911, and our rescuers arriving at the subject's location. Shut down in 2005 due to resources, this program is being revived as a pilot program for the summer of 2007. The RAD Team program involves a small number of rescuers patrolling high activity areas by vehicle during weekend daylight hours.

Fundraising Activities back to top

King County Search And Rescue Association is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization; Federal EIN 91-1331555. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Telephone Pledge Drive back to top

KCSARA conducts a fundraising program over the telephone to residences within King County, Washington. We routinely audit our agent's books and check their performance. To verify the legitimacy of any solicitation you receive, or for more information, please feel free to call the KCSARA's Pledge Drive Coordinator, Douglas Burchard, directly at 425-998-7522, or email him at

What is My Donation Used For? back to top

The community's support of KCSARA enables us to ensure continuity of service for the critical, on-going, everyday needs of our neighbors. Services such as: searching for missing children and adults in urban areas throughout King County, rescuing lost and injured recreationists in our forests and wilderness, and locating critical evidence at crime scenes for local law enforcement.

Safety Information back to top

Backcountry Preparedness / The 10+ Essentials back to top

Whether traveling into the backcountry for an hour, or several days, every person should carry the 10+ essential items recommended, for over seventy years, by backcountry enthusiasts everywhere.

Before you leave: tell someone where you are going, and carry these "10+ Essentials":

  1. Navigation (map and compass / GPS)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses / sunscreen / hat)
  3. Insulation (extra layers of clothing / avoid cotton)
  4. Illumination (headlamp / flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies (including your personal prescriptions / know how to use)
  6. Emergency Fire (camp stove / waterproof matches or lighter / fire starter)
  7. Repair kit and tools (what can break? / knife or multi-tool / duct tape / spare parts)
  8. Nutrition (enough and extra food)
  9. Hydration (enough and extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (always / small tarp or tent / 25+ feet of cord)

If lost or injured:

Travelers could very well carry these items for years without ever needing some of them. But, when the unfortunate happens, in combination with calm decision making, these items can save your life, and the lives of others. For more information, consider taking a class on practical wilderness survival through a local outdoor group or retailer.

Vehicle Preparedness back to top

Weather, road conditions, and mechanical breakdowns can all bring unexpected situations at any time of year. To be prepared for these unplanned events, KCSARA recommends always carrying the following items in your vehicle: a first aid kit, warm clothes and blankets, distilled drinking water, and a flashlight. If you do become stuck in a wilderness environment, stay with your vehicle! No matter how long it takes, it will be easier for us to find your vehicle than you alone.

Vehicle Maintenance back to top

Keeping your vehicle in good working order is the key to avoiding emergencies. Strictly follow the maintenance schedule in your vehicle's owner's manual, and make sure to take these additional steps before leaving on any long trips: start with a full tank of fuel and don't let it drop below a third of a tank without refilling, check your tire pressure and tread wear, and fill your windshield washer reservoir with a deicing fluid, You should also carry an ice scrapper and brush, windshield and lock de-icer, jumper cables, and flares.

Storing Drinking Water in Your Home and Vehicle back to top

The easiest way to store drinking water in your vehicle or home is to buy gallon jugs of distilled water -- available at any supermarket - and store them out of direct sunlight. Purchase new jugs every three months and use the old jugs -- if you haven't broken the seal, it will still be perfectly fine to drink. Tap water stored similarly forms a slippery film in about a week, and should be avoided.

Storing Food in Your Vehicle back to top

The easiest way to store food in your vehicle is not to. Simply plan to take along substantial snacks every time you take a long drive. To protect your waistline, remember that just because you bring it along, doesn't mean you have to eat it. If you still want to store food, try energy bars, and GORP. Just store them out of sunlight and in as cool a place as possible, like the trunk.

Special Considerations for Your Vehicle in Winter back to top

In addition to everything you do to prepare your vehicle for travel in other times of the year, early Fall to late Spring deserves special considerations. You should carry a winter emergency kit including: a small shovel, a traction aid such as sand or kitty litter, and tire chains sized for your tires that you've practiced putting on and taking off. Also make sure your vehicle has the appropriate amount of antifreeze and all terrain tires all around.

Emergency Flashlights back to top

You can never tell when you will need a flashlight. Unfortunately, when you do it absolutely must work. You can either carry extra light bulbs and batteries, or purchase an LED flashlight with a hand crank. It might sound silly, but the latest hand crank flashlights can provide reliable light for up to 30-minutes after only 1-minute of cranking.

Cell Phones back to top

Cell phones are an invaluable aid in summoning help when an emergency develops. Sure, they don't work everywhere, but they're so small and lightweight it's just better to have one with you than not. However, make sure to charge it up before you go, and turn it off until you need it. The last thing you want is to have a dead battery when you really need to call 911.

Cell Phone Battery back to top

Cell Phones use dramatically more power when they need to hunt for a signal. In areas where the signal strength is poor -- like in the wilderness, or during times of disaster -- your phone's battery life will be severely hampered. If your phone might be needed to call for help, turn off your phone until you need to call out.

Last updated on April 10, 2018