SMRG Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group


Responding to Alerts

All official mission alerts will be sent via the IamResponding (IaR) app. Prior to the IaR alert, you may receive a copy of the VDEM Statewide Alert Network (SWAN) email message, but this does not mean SMRG is officially responding. Instead, use the SWAN information to familiarize yourself with the mission subject and location, determine whether you are available to respond, and begin preparing your gear.

Avails Submission

Please submit availability, including negative avails, as soon as alerts are received for a mission. Avails are submitted via the IaR app. From the Dashboard view, click Respond Now and select your availability status. If you select Future Availability, navigate to the Scheduling section in the app and click Add a new shift to specify the timeframe when you will be available to respond.

Responding to the Mission

When preparing to respond, take your time. Although search and rescue is an emergent situation, you should not rush to get on the road, and you definitely should not speed or drive recklessly. Review the mission information, plan your travel route, collect your gear, make contingency plans (i.e. staying later than expected, inclement weather, etc.), pet your cat, call dispatch, and then get on the road.


  1. The mission has been officially accepted by SMRG
  2. A dispatcher has been assigned
  3. You have contacted the dispatcher

GPS Tracks

It is recommended that responders use SarTopo or Caltopo on their phones, as this allows mission base to view tracks from teams in the field in real time.

Alert Officers

Upon receiving an alert from VDEM Statewide Alert Network (SWAN), NPS or ASRC, one of the SMRG Alert Officers (AOs) on Duty will respond within 10 minutes. If the AOs on-duty are N/A, then any of the other AOs can take the alert.

After an AO opens the mission, dispatch will open. Members should wait for dispatch to open before responding and be sure to contact the current dispatcher.

Useful contacts

SMRG Personnel

SMRG Ops OfficerBen Abramson781-789-1042
SMRG Dispatch TTL Phillip Jones

The following contacts are for the alert officer or dispatcher to use to determine mission information. All others should contact the current dispatcher or alert officer with any questions or concerns about an on-going mission:

Virginia SAR Personnel

VDEM State SAR ChiefBryan Saunders804-516-5797
VDEM Western Div. SAR CoordinatorBilly Chrimes804-239-9495
VDEM Eastern Div. SAR CoordinatorMark Eggeman804-840-0536

Other SAR Contacts

VA State Emergency Ops Center / VDEM800-468-8892 (toll free)
Shenandoah National Park Emergency Comms Center540-999-3422
SNP Switchboard540-999-3500
West Virginia Emergency Management304-558-5380
PA Emergency Operations Center717-651-2001