Thinking about joining SMRG? Consider some of the benefits
of participating in a volunteer wilderness SAR organization:
Service: SMRG's ultimate mission is to serve
the community. Our main activities center around providing assistance to those
who become lost or injured in the outdoors. However, the group also provides
first aid and other services in a number of outdoor events, often working in
conjunction with local law enforcement and emergency medical services. In addition,
SMRG actively educates the public on safe conduct in the outdoors and prevention
of wilderness emergencies. If you're looking for a way to "give back" to the
community while using your outdoor expertise, this is it.
Training: Our members receive extensive training in wilderness
survival, land navigation, land/air evacuation methods, search techniques, radio communications, team leadership, and other areas that are key to our
operations. Training is conducted in both the field and the classroom, and sessions are administered at no cost to our membership. You do not
need previous search and rescue experience to join - only a willingness to particpate
and a desire to learn.
Community: We have more than 100 members from all walks of life, all
connected in their affinity for the outdoors and a desire to contribute. Many
members find that SMRG activities provide the context for an enjoyable social
network and friendships that persist outside of official group events.
Joining SMRG is easy. The best way to learn more about the group is to
attend a New Members' Meeting. Sessions are held periodically (schedule is shown on this page, upper left). In this informal session, you'll receive an overview of the group
and its mission. You'll have the chance to meet an SMRG member and
to ask questions about the group. If you like what you hear, may apply to the group as a Probationary Callout Qualified (PCQ) member. Or,
if you decide search and rescue is not for you, there's no obligation to join.
Some of the topics prospective members typically ask about are covered below.
If you have other questions, send an email to Join SMRG
to reach our New Member Coordinator.
Q: How much time will I need to devote to SMRG?
A: Each member is encouraged to particpate as fully as possible. SMRG typically has between 15 and 30 "callouts" (rescue
operations) each year. Participation is always voluntary, but to remain an active
member of the group you'll need to participate in at least two of these annually.
In addition, members are encouraged to attend monthly business meetings and
to take advantage of regular training sessions.
Q: What happens on a typical search and rescue operation?
A: SMRG is dispatched to conduct wilderness searches for missing/injured
persons, aircraft, or evidence. Once the dispatch occurs, our members travel
to the search location. Upon arrival, they coordinate with other search organizations,
volunteers, and law enforcement officers to inspect a wilderness area in search
of the subject. Our searches frequently occur in rugged terrain, so we generally
deploy ground teams, although assistance may be provided by aerial and motorized
searchers as well.
Q: When do search operations occur?
A: Callouts can occur any time of year, any day of the week, and
at any hour. Most searches are completed within 48 hours, but some can last
several days. The majority of our members have "other" jobs (we have to pay
for our search gear somehow) and balance their voluntary service in SMRG with
their other commitments.
Q: Do I need previous experience to join?
A: We welcome participants at all levels. If you are competent
in the outdoors and own basic survival gear, you have the essentials. Of course,
we are very interested in potential members with previous search and rescue
experience, as well as individuals with backgrounds in wilderness survival,
emergency medicine, and disaster management.
Q: Where is SMRG located?
A: SMRG is based in Vienna, Virginia and most of our members reside
in the greater Washington metropolitan area. While there is no residency requirement
for joining SMRG, the majority of our training activities are conducted in and
around northern Virginia.