Who We Are
The Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group (SMRG) is a professional volunteer ground search and rescue organization established to provide assistance to those who become lost or injured in the outdoors. Based in Vienna, Virginia, SMRG has a diverse membership with a broad range of backgrounds and skill sets who share a common bond to serve the community.
What we do
Search and Rescue (SAR) involves locating and evacuating persons who are lost, trapped, or otherwise missing, or injured.
As a wilderness SAR team SMRG trains for, and is able to conduct, search and rescue activities in rugged and less-populated outdoor areas. The group also frequently assists with non-wilderness search situations including searching suburban areas, searches for missing persons, and persons suffering from dementia.
SMRG By the Numbers
Below is a snapshot of some of our average annual metrics
|~150 active and trainee members
|20-30 mission callouts
|Trainings – Classroom
|25-30 sessions (2-3 hours each)
|Trainings – Field Exercises
|12-15 day-long training sessions
|Trainings – Full Scale Exercises
|Preventive SAR Presentations
|6-10 youth-centered presentations
|Pre-staged Preventive SAR Activities
|5-6 Shenandoah National Park pre-deployment weekends
SMRG helps provide the necessary personnel, equipment, and expertise to help find missing persons. We assist state, local, and federal authorities with search and rescue or recovery operations involving missing persons or aircraft in the mid-Atlantic region, with most missions taking place in Virginia.
Operational Search and Rescue
In a ground search capacity we work with law enforcement, first responders, and other SAR organizations in field teams of 4-6, combing through wilderness or suburban areas in search of subjects, or evidence of their whereabouts. Our members are trained in a number of relevant SAR domains, including search operations, land navigation, land/air evacuation techniques, wilderness safety/medicine.
If rescue operations are warranted SMRG operates in a rescue capacity for manual patient evacuations as well as assisting with helicopter-based rescues. We also have members trained to work with emergency management agencies for search planning and emergency incident management.
Preventive Search and Rescue
In addition to our primary operational function, SMRG helps the community by providing preventive search and rescue (PSAR) programs and support to help educate the public about safety in the outdoors. We offer a PSAR program to educate children between the ages of 4 and 12 on outdoor safety, how to respond if they become lost, and an overview of search and rescue. We also support Shenandoah National Park on selected weekends throughout the year to ensure visitors are properly prepared for their hiking adventures and to provide rescue support as needed.
Where We Respond
SMRG primarily responds to SAR emergencies in Virginia, but may also respond to emergencies in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
How We Get Involved
Members of SMRG can only respond to a SAR emergency with a formal request initiated by an Emergency Management Agency. When a law enforcement agency, known as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), is notified of a search and rescue emergency, it coordinates resources through the appropriate Emergency Management Agency.
SMRG responds to SAR emergencies under agreements with the following Emergency Management Authorities:
- Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM)
- Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference (ASRC)
- Shenandoah National Park
Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference
SMRG is a member of the Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference(ASRC). Founded in 1974, the ASRC is composed of volunteer search and rescue groups in the Mid-Atlantic region(asrc.net).
Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club(PATC) supports trails and outdoor activities in the Mid-Atlantic region, and serves as the authority on Mid-Atlantic wilderness areas. PATC offers a variety of training and guided activities that encourage safe and enjoyable use of the outdoors and ultimately contribute to the prevention of wilderness emergencies (patc.net).
SMRG was founded as a chapter of the PATC, and is now graciously hosted by the PATC at their headquarters in Vienna, VA.
Virginia Search & Rescue Council
SMRG is a member of the Virginia Search & Rescue Council (VASARCO), which is composed of volunteer search and rescue groups throughout Virginia. VASARCO works closely with these groups and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to coordinate SAR standards and activities (vasarco.org).
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
SMRG holds a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) in order to respond to SAR emergencies throughout the state. SMRG members also participate in the ground search and rescue academy provided by VDEM (vaemergency.gov).
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park (SNP) is located a short drive from the nation’s capitol and experiences a high volume of visitors. SMRG holds a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help with preventative SAR at the park, as well as responding to emergencies while there.