Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue

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Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue logo

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue (MCSO SAR) is a non-profit volunteer search and rescue resource for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Multnomah County, Oregon, United States. The agency also offers its 3,000-5,000 hours of volunteer service[1] to other areas, including Clackamas, Columbia, Washington, Marion, Hood River, Wasco, Tillamook, and Clatsop counties in Oregon, and Skamania and Clark counties in Washington.[1] The organization was first created in 1961 in cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America, and is one of the longest continually used Explorer Search and Rescue units in the United States.[1] In 1986, sponsorship of the MCSO SAR was transferred to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.[1] MCSO SAR is part of the Mount Hood Search and Rescue Council.[2] MCSO receives funding from the Department of Homeland Security within the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) to create a regional resource.[3]


MCSO SAR was founded by a parent interested in forming a Boy Scout bagpiper crew. The troop was only open to males and had 12 members. At the time the troop had no interest in performing search and rescue tasks, but in 1961 it was called upon to do so by Multnomah County after all of their law enforcement staff were exhausted during a search on Mount Hood. The group agreed to assist with the search and were later asked to partner with Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) as a volunteer search and rescue resource. Once the unit was officially affiliated with the county, it began offering membership to women and slowly gained female members. Years later, after the Boy Scout affiliation faded, the sheriff's office began affiliating the unit as the primary search and rescue resource for Multnomah County.


All members of MCSO SAR are trained in a wide range of fields, including first aid, the legal aspect of search and rescue, emergency survival skills and equipment, radio communications, land navigation, GPS orientation, crime scene safety and security, search organization and management, search techniques, man tracking, helicopter safety, wilderness medicine, and rescue techniques. A minimum of 40 hours of training each year is required by the state;[4] however, the MCSO SAR itself requires 200 hours.

This extra training required by the MCSO SAR includes rope rescue training, rope systems, and pulley systems, urban search and rescue scenarios, training in responding to terrorist attacks, natural disasters and urban searches, crime scene evidence searching, and snow and avalanche safety. MCSO SAR also participates in the Washington State Search & Rescue Conference each year for specialist training in a number of different subjects. Starting in the summer of 2007, MCSO SAR began optional training which consisted of review as well as specialized training such as high rope rescue, advanced first aid, advanced survival skills, and helicopter training.


A Multnomah County Search and Rescue vehicle, with other rescue vehicles in the background during a search
A Multnomah County Sheriff's vehicle, with a command vehicle in the background during a search

The MCSO SAR provides a number of services to Multnomah County, Oregon. Its members are the main first response team for missing, lost, or injured persons in the county and are often called in by other counties to assist at large search sites or when resources are drained. MCSO SAR members also often perform crime scene evidence searches at major or outdoor crime scenes for agencies all over the state of Oregon and have been credited with finding key evidence that ultimately assisted in solving hundreds of homicides.[5] Besides responding to emergencies, MCSO SAR members often assist with or put on public safety events to inform and teach the public about outdoor safety. MCSO SAR also works at various public events, assisting with such things as security, parking/traffic, and first aid.

Command Structure[edit]

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue members make up various positions within the unit. Each of those positions has different roles and responsibilities, with greater or lesser authority.

Law Enforcement Staff

  1. Sheriff
  2. Chief Deputy
  3. Captain
  4. Sergeant (Head SAR Coordinator)
  5. Deputy (multiple Associate SAR Coordinators)


  1. Advisor
  2. Unit President
  3. Unit Vice President
  4. Quarter Master
  5. Secretary
  6. Team Leader (TL)
  7. Assistant Team Leader (ATL)
  8. Reserve
  9. Certified Team Member (certification through the State of Oregon)
  10. Uncertified Team Member


There are certain requirements to join MCSO Search and Rescue team,[1] these being:

  • Desire to serve the community
  • 14 years of age or older
  • If in school, must maintain a Grade point average of 2.5 or higher
  • Able to pass a criminal background check
  • Have up-to-date vaccinations
  • Physical fitness: operating on foot and hike for long periods of time
  • Maintain a minimum amount of required outdoor equipment and clothing
  • On call 24/7
  • Pass a state certification exam

Other agencies[edit]

There are a number of other agencies that assist with searches within Multnomah County, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Multnomah County Sheriffs page". Archived from the original on 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  2. ^ Kulongoski, Ted. "The Governor's Search and Rescue Task Force" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-05-29. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Multnomah County Sheriff Office (MCSO) Search and Rescue Team Announces Media Event". Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  4. ^ "Oregon sate minimum search and rescue requirements" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-29. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Search and rescue team locates body" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-29. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "AMR RAT team". 
  7. ^ "Mountain Wave page". Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  8. ^ "Search One K9". Archived from the original on 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  9. ^ "Clackamas county Search and Rescue". Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°31′35″N 122°32′16″W / 45.5263°N 122.5378°W / 45.5263; -122.5378