The Pierce County Search and Rescue council is an affiliation of volunteer organizations working with the Pierce County Sheriffs Department to foster search and rescue activities within the county.
The council was organized in 1966, although several units have been involved in search and rescue work for a much longer time. The purpose of the council is to bring the units and their members together for discussion of mutual SAR related matters and to promote closer coordination during actual search missions. The council supports all SAR related activities and the public education on outdoor safety.
Actual missions in which the council’s units have participated include; searches for missing or stranded mountain climbers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, skiers and elderly persons or small children who wander away. Some council units are involved in assisting local law enforcement agencies in locating and recovering evidence instrumental in criminal trials.
Each unit and the individual members provide their own transportation and specialized equipment. Trail bikes, 4×4 vehicles, boats, scuba gear, radios, mountain rescue equipment and wilderness camping gear is purchased with NO use of federal, state or county tax funds. Each unit provides specialized training to insure their members are prepared for search mission. Individuals on field search and rescue teams have received training in Survival, First Aid, CPR, Wilderness Navigation, Search & Rescue Techniques, Rescue and Recovery and Communications. The council conducts periodic field exercises and sponsors classroom training courses for the units and their members.
The activities of the various units in the council are performed at the request of the Pierce County Sheriff and other local police departments at no cost to the individuals involved. Washington State Law (RCW 38.52.400) “…The chief law enforcement officer of each political sub-division is responsible for search and rescue activities.” In Pierce County this responsibility rests with the Sheriffs Department. The Sheriffs Department and the Tacoma Police Department work together and have teams trained as search & rescue coordinators. One of these teams is always on call. All on duty SAR deputies/officers have an assigned vehicle and can be on scene shortly after receiving a missing person report. During a search & rescue mission the senior SAR deputy coordinates the activities of all volunteer units.