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2_3_h__6_The King County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for search and rescue activities in King County 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, down missing aircrafts. SAR volunteers also assist in times of natural disasters like flooding, windstorms and earthquakes.

Learn about Volunteering with Search and Rescue!

Phone: (206) 205-8227
Fax: (206) 205-8282

Affiliated Organizations

There are numerous volunteer organizations that assist us with Search and Rescue.  We have listed them below, along with links to their websites.


King County Search & Rescue Association (KCSARA)


KCSARA was organized and became operational on February 1, 1965 as a non-profit, volunteer group. The purpose of the association is to:

  • Promote a unified organization of field teams
  • Enable an interchange of knowledge and field techniques
  • Deploy qualified personnel as required by the mission needs
  • Promote education of the public in wilderness safety and recreation
  • Promote training and maintain the highest proficiency in search and rescue techniques and operations of the member units
  • Promote the education and deployment techniques needed for responses to search and rescue an natural disasters

King County 4X4 Search & Rescue


4x4 Search and Rescue* has been active in King County since 1954. A group of men saw a need to assist others in looking for lost or injured hikers and outdoors enthusiasts that were up logging roads in the mountains or otherwise "away from civilization." They approached the King County Police with this idea and as a result, 4X4 became a reality.

Growing from a group with limited training and small vehicles (mostly jeeps), 4X4 currently has over 100 members that are mission ready. This unit's primary mission is to provide transportation to other search and rescue organizations through the use of all-wheel terrain vehicles that are capable of negotiating terrain that would not be passable by conventional vehicles. This unit is also capable of conducting night road searches, traffic control, radio relay and helicopter support team.

Members are trained using their own vehicle in off-road driving, drive a variety of vehicles and take an active role in King County Search and Rescue Association (KCSARA) functions. Members are highly skilled in using electronic equipment to locate downed aircraft, in wilderness and off-road navigation and in radio communications. Many members are part of KCSARA's Electronic Locating Transmitter (ELT) team. Members from 4X4 also respond to disaster situations in the community by providing transportation and communications services. The 4X4 unit has expanded its role to assist the King County Sheriff's Office with Incident Command System (ICS) needs.

Community members are encouraged to join 4X4 if they have a desire to help others, have a willingness to be a team member and team player and will support and further the goals and objectives of search and rescue in King County. Members may own and drive their own vehicles, may act as observers in vehicles on missions, may assist and be part of 4X4 base camp personnel or lend their support while not being mission active, but have an interest in 4X4 activities. We even need members that are willing to drive our command and communication vehicles.

The 4X4 unit meets on the second Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m. at City University, 150 120th Ave NE, Bellevue. For more information about becoming a member, contact

King County SAR Incident Support Team (KC SAR IST)


The Incident Support Team provides mission glue between KCSO and KCSARA Units. During missions, we provide administration, record keeping, radio logging, and "other duties as assigned". We provide ICS expertise before, during, and after missions, assisting with plan development and execution. Our name says it all.

Age minimum of 21 is required due to the sensitive nature of the information we work with.

Additional requirements include an amateur radio license, sometime during the first year, and all of the WAC qualifications for a field qualified SAR State Emergency Worker. We, however, do not go into the backcountry as do the ground units such as ESAR.

Side note: The Washington State field requirements allow IST members to be in base. KCSARA has a higher requirement for heading into the backcountry, that can be achieved by joining another unit such as ESAR. Many IST members are also members of other units. This provides us with better appreciation and understanding of all the unit's operations and allows us to effect a better mission operation.

Any questions, feel free to contact us at

Explorer Search and Rescue (KC ESAR)


King County Explorer Search & Rescue* (ESAR) is the largest of eight units in the King County Search and Rescue Association (KCSARA). The 100% volunteer organization 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.

All field qualified King County ESAR members have been rigorously trained in wilderness navigation, map and compass, outdoor survival, evidence search, and mountain first aid skills. In addition to providing a team for basic ground search and rescue, King County ESAR also maintains an advanced technical rescue team, a mountain bike search team, and a group of county and state certified Emergency Medical Technicians. Members also are quite active in the multi-unit Emergency Locator Trasmitter (ELT) team and the seasonal Rapid Alpine Deployment (RAD) team.

King County ESAR is highly committed to its youth members, but also welcomes older members as field team members as well as in various supporting roles.

Want to know more? Give our 24-hr information line a call.
ESAR Information Line: (206) 748-1300
Recruiting E-Mail:

King County Search Dogs (KCSD)


King County Search Dogs* 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 (NWHSAR) 


Members of this group 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.

Seattle Mountain Rescue (SMR)


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 Alpine Rescue Team (SPART)


The Ski Patrol Rescue Team (SPART) provides emergency medical/trauma care in wilderness environments year round to the citizen's of King County. SPART's most valuable resource is it's over 60 volunteer members who any season will take time from their otherwise busy schedules to respond to a cry for help. We support our members and the other members of King County Search and Rescue, by maintaining two equipment caches stocked with safety and rescue gear. Members of SPART are actively involved in educating others. Our internal training programs are member driven with most instructors pulled from within our own ranks. Many of the instructors for the Northwest Region of the National Ski Patrol and the King County Chapter of the American Red Cross, are members of SPART. Our members also assist in the training of other search and rescue teams within King County and across the United States. And finally, we talk regularly with youth organizations and sponsor public courses in avalanche and wilderness safety.

Pacific Northwest Trackers Association (PNWT)


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.