Search & Rescue

Northwest SARCon 2014

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is proud to announce Northwest SARCon -- our search-and-rescue conference, set for September 26-28, 2014 at Camp Kuratli at Threstle Glen, in Boring, Oregon. SARCon is an incredible networking and educational opportunity for SAR team members and volunteers, police officers, firefighters and military and medical personnel. Participants receive hands-on training and participate in discussions on topics related to every aspect of search-and-rescue missions.

For more information, online registration, and highlights of past conferences, visit the official SARCon website at

Patrolling rivers Dive team marine patrol with canine

Dive team on helicopter Blackhawk lifting off Rappelling

River rescue Wading into the water Scaling Mt. Hood

Tossing a throw rope Blackhawk flying over head In a marine patrol boat

Q. What is the Search & Rescue Team?

A. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Search & Rescue (SAR) Team is responsible for managing and coordinating search and rescue missions for persons who are lost, stranded, or injured in Clackamas County.

Q. How many rescues does the Search & Rescue Team make per year?

A. In 2006, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Search & Rescue team was activated 117 times. More than a dozen of these operations were operational for more than one day. A few attracted international attention.

Q. Do they handle rescue operations on Mt. Hood?

A. Yes -- but while those operations are the ones that attract the most media attention, the Search & Rescue Team actually responds to a variety of situations in a number of different environments.

The SAR Team helps out with wilderness rescues; rescue operations within incorporated cities in Clackamas County; and the location of missing persons, including elderly men and women suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia who wander away from their caregivers.  

The SAR Team also provides assistance to search missions to other Oregon counties. For example:

  • In March 2006, Search & Rescue helped Wasco County and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation search for a missing woman in the Warm Springs backcountry. She was found in an area the coordinators identified as her most probable location.
  • In June 2006, the team assisted Canby Police over a two-day period, coordinating and managing over 485 hours of searching by 100 people for a missing 61-year-old woman with health problems. The task was monumental. The woman was found, alive.
  • One of the team's biggest challenges came in December 2006 -- when Kelly James, Brian Hall and Jerry Cooke failed to return from their planned ascent of Mt. Hood. The Sheriff of Hood River County asked for help, and the team delivered -- with a week of operation planning and support at two command posts in brutal weather conditions. The Search & Rescue Team also helped manage the needs of family members, rescue workers and the international media.

Q. How big is the Search & Rescue Team?

A. The Search and Rescue Unit is staffed by a Program Coordinator (appointed by the Sheriff) and SAR Coordinators -- sworn deputies selected from various divisions within the Sheriff's office. The current roster includes two Sergeants and seven Deputies.

Q. What are the duties of Search & Rescue Deputies?

A. All SAR Coordinators are permanently assigned to other full-time duties, but are subject to 24-hour call out for search missions. Each Deputy is required to maintain high proficiency standards (as outlined in the state SAR Certification Standards).

They also assist in the certification and training of Oregon State emergency workers and search-and-rescue volunteer organizations. And they help with statewide SAR training through the Oregon State Sheriff's Association. and Oregon Association of Mounted Posses.

Q. How does the Search & Rescue Team work with volunteer groups like Portland Mountain Rescue?

A. Volunteers are absolutely critical to the success of SAR missions -- and the Sheriff's Office relies heavily on the expertise and dedication of skilled volunteer groups, including:

Portland Mountain Rescue maintains a comprehensive list of links to even more Oregon search-and-rescue organizations.

During the CCSO Awards Banquet in March 2007, Sheriff Roberts presented Public Service Awards to Portland Mountain Rescue and Mountain Wave Emergency Communications.

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