Frequently Asked Questions

It is expected that you will have questions that this website doesn't answer. This is our best attempt to address questions posed to us in the past. If you still do not have the answer you are looking for, click here to send us a message!

1. What does River City Search & Rescue (RCSAR) do?

We provide trained teams of unpaid volunteers for wilderness searches for and rescues of persons who are missing, injured or lost. Such searches may be conducted on foot or in 4-wheel drive vehicles. All missions are conducted ONLY with the advice and consent of the law enforcement agency of jurisdiction AND the next of kin.

2. What skills are valuable to RCSAR?

Members who enjoy outdoors activities such as hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, skiing and mountaineering. Also, RCSAR can use valuable experience in amateur radio, off-road driving and medical or nursing fields.

3. How will my skills be used? How can I contribute to RCSAR?

There are a variety of ways you may contribute to the team and to the community. For example, you may:

  • Participate in a “ground pounder” team searching on foot.
  • Serve as team medic/EMT.
  • Drive a four-wheel vehicle in support of the search.

Or you might participate in operations at the command center, also called the Incident Command Post. In this capacity, you may be involved in radio communications, mapping and tracking of search teams or finding and coordinating various types of search resources.

4. What does a typical Florida search entail?

Incident Command staff will decide what teams will be needed and in what areas they will search.

Search teams will be given assignments based on the strength and fitness of the team’s members. Team assignments may involve hiking between five and ten miles and can be up twelve hours long.

Many searches involve dense vegetation with the possibility of dangerous wildlife.

Occasionally we are asked to participate in missions in other areas of Florida. Many searches are initiated in the evening and require searchers to be active in the middle of the night, both in the summer and winter and occasionally in stormy weather.

5. Do I have to be a real athlete to participate?

No, that is not required. But, since there could be some strenuous hiking involved—often in very high temperatures—it’s important that members be fit and capable of reasonable endurance. And, remember, if hiking is not your thing, there are other ways you may contribute.

6. How often does RCSAR meet?

The team trains twice per month, with one session given online and then a practical exercise at Jennings State Forest. Online training can be completed at any time during the month. The practical exercise will take place on the third Saturday of each month.

7. What training is available?

In addition to the monthly classroom training, RCSAR has a team field training once a month, usually on the third Saturday. These weekend field trainings focus on the various skills that are important in search and rescue including:

  • Navigation (map, compass, GPS) Radio communications
  • Search techniques
  • Technical rescue skills
  • Medical assessment

8. When can I go on my first real mission?

We know how excited you will be about getting out on that first real mission; after all, that’s why we exist. But, we want to ensure our team members are properly trained, prepared, equipped and dressed for the elements. Once a member attains SARTECH III, or equivalent, certification they will be added to the active roster.

9. But, what if I can’t make a mission or a training session?

We understand our members have family and work obligations. As a result, we don’t expect them to attend every meeting, training session or mission. But, remember our objective is to field trained teams, which requires a time commitment of our members.

10. What other things must I do to prepare?

Generally in your first year, we require you to become certified in Incident Command System and National Incident Managment System. Within 18 months, we expect each member attain SARTECH III. This Certification involves taking a short written test on a variety of search-related topics.

11. What equipment do I need for search and rescue and does RCSAR provide it to me?

You will be expected to have and use a basic safety gear, summer and winter clothing and emergency equipment useful in the wilderness. A core list is provided in FAQ 15.

As a supplement to your gear, RCSAR has a limited amount of team equipment you may use on training sessions and/or official searches: communications radios, first-aid kits, rope, and evacuation equipment for injured victims.

12. What will it cost to participate with RCSAR?

Your costs are in three areas:

  • You are asked to furnish your own basic clothing and equipment; however, RCSAR will make every effort to assist new members with finding modestly-priced equipment and clothing to minimize these expenses.
  • You will furnish your own transportation to the meetings and missions
  • Since RCSAR is incorporated in Florida and designated by the IRS as a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) organization, you may be eligible to take selected tax deductions.

13. What about insurance coverage?

The River City Search and Rescue Team does not provide health, accident, or life insurance for its members.

14. Where can I find equipment and clothing if I don’t have everything?

A list of local and national equipment and clothing companies providing reasonably-priced or discounted goods is in the membership packet.

15. What’s on that list of required basic equipment?

A searcher is expected to carry a pack with enough food for 24 hours, even though search periods are usually limited to 8 to 12 hours. Remember, we operate year round, so temperatures in Florida can vary greatly from winter to summer, and thus require different clothing.

The list below covers only the basic equipment needed to respond to a typical search; you will probably supplement the list with your own ideas. If you spend much time in the outdoors, you probably have much of this gear already.

Clothing

  • Hiking boots and two pairs of wool socks
  • Head cover
  • Work gloves
  • Poncho or rain jacket with hood (outer layer)
  • Wool, synthetic or silk middle clothing layer
  • Inner layer of non-cotton material
  • Backpack of sufficient size

Safety/Emergency Equipment

  • Plastic whistle
  • First-aid kit
  • Space blanket
  • Compass
  • Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries
  • Knife
  • Fire starter
  • Signal mirror
  • Twenty feet of one-inch wide tubular webbing
  • Helmet

Other Items:

  • Food for 24 hours
  • Two quarts or more of water
  • Pencil/pen and paper

16. Wow, sounds like a lot! Where can I get some help?

We recognize all this could be a bit much. So, as soon as you join, we will assign you a personal Mentor. Your Mentor will help you throughout your first year by answering your questions, ensuring you are receiving the proper training and preparation, eliminating any obstacles and making sure you have fun. We do serious work for our community, but we enjoy ourselves while we are doing it!

17. Where can I go for more information?

You can learn more by coming to a training session and see the team in action!

-Credit-Santa Fe Search & Rescue Group