Civilian Search and Rescue Teams
Typically, private search and rescue organizations require that members undergo a certification process. In the event that they are activated by law enforcement for a missing person search, members arrive fully prepared, i.e. they are dressed appropriately for climate and terrain, and have tools, such as a flashlight and canteen, that are necessary to assist them in the search. These civilians are often suitable for immediate deployment by law enforcement in varying terrain and conditions.
Who are Trained Civilian Searchers?
Trained civilian searchers are civilians who are already members of an organized search and rescue team recognized by the Massachusetts State Police.
How does someone become a member of a Civilian Search and Rescue team?
For those who may want additional information or may be interested in joining an organized search and rescue team, a list is provided:
|Central Massachusetts Search and Rescue Team |
Attn: Mark Supernor
P.O. Box 575
Boylston, MA 01515
|Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue Team |
Attn: Joe Bourquard
P.O. Box 844
Pittsfield, MA 01202
Additional certification and training is offered by Northeast Wilderness Search and Rescue (NEWSAR) and National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) qualified instructors. For more information on NEWSAR or NASAR training being offered in a particular area write:
P.O. Box 52
Ware, MA 01082-0052
4500 Southgate Place, Suite 100
Chantilly, VA 20151
What if someone just wants to show up at the scene to help?
The Massachusetts State Police welcome the assistance of untrained civilians as well. Untrained civilian searchers are most often the unorganized civilian volunteers, be it family members, friends or neighbors of the victim, or anyone who responds to the scene to assist. Their participation is usually a one-time event and they are unlikely to be interested in any formal, certified training, nor do they wish to be committed to professional search and rescue.
The Massachusetts State Police have protocols in place to assign these untrained volunteers to appropriate duties and functional responsibilities. All civilians wishing to volunteer under these circumstances should contact either State Police or their local law enforcement agency before reporting to the scene of any search and rescue operation.
It is important that all search efforts be undertaken with the supervision of the law enforcement agencies at the scene. Any attempts to search on your own, while well intentioned, may in fact lead to further risk of injury to the victim, as well as yourself.
Untrained civilian searchers may be assigned to functions such as logistical support, manning of perimeter listening posts, perimeter confinement, food distribution and dissemination of informational flyers; all roles that are necessary to support those who are deployed in the field.
Be advised, that in order to participate, untrained civilian volunteers, like the trained civilian volunteers, will be required to:
- Supply verification of their name, address, and age
- Submit to an EMT check of their physical condition
- Sign a search and rescue volunteer waiver authorizing the Massachusetts State Police to conduct a criminal background check
- Submit to an equipment check
- Submit to a brief skills check
- Receive any necessary equipment
Click here to view the EOPS Civilian Search and Rescue Plan