U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency

Resource: Wilderness Search and Rescue Team
Category: Search and Rescue (ESF #9)
Kind: Team
Minimum Capabilities (Component) Minimum Capabilities
(Metric)

Type I

Type II Type III Type IV Other

Team

Rescue Capabilities

Same as Type II

Backcountry, low-angle evacuation

Same as Type IV

Trained rescue personnel with experience in nontechnical backcountry evacuation/carryouts supported by local technical experts

Team Search Capabilities Capable of conducting self-sustaining full search operations for 72 hours in all weather and low-angle wilderness terrain; Competent and experienced Incident Command staff Capable of conducting
self-sustaining full search operations for 48 hours in all weather and low-angle wilderness terrain; Competent and experienced Incident Command staff
Same as Type IV

Capable of searching
high-probability local wilderness terrain for short durations
(24 hours or less)

 
Team Personnel At least 6 team leaders and 48 team members to support at least 6 operational field units (at least 1 member of each team must be a medical specialist – see below); Management staff following ICS model At least 4 team leaders and 28 team members to support at least 4 operational field units (at least 1 member of each team must be a medical specialist – see below); Management staff following ICS model At least 2 team leaders and 6 team members to support at least 2 operational field units; Must be supported by local EMS and technical rescue personnel At least 1 team leader and 3 team members; Must be supported by local EMS and technical rescue personnel  
Medical Specialist National standard EMT curriculum; ACLS, BTLS National standard EMT-B curriculum or wilderness first responder; BTLS Not required – supported by local EMS Not required – supported by local EMS  
Overhead Incident Management Incident staff capable of managing wilderness search operations Incident staff capable of managing wilderness search operations Unit level mission release; No search management capabilities Unit level mission release; No search management capabilities  
Crew Availability Available for more than
1 full day of operations
Available for more than 1 full day of operations Available for at least 1 full day of operations Available for at least 1 full day of operations  
Sustained Operations 72 hours 48 hours 24 hours 24 hours  
Training Same as Type II, plus: Personnel demonstrate proficiency in mantracking and working with expert mantrackers Same as Type III, plus:
1 member of each team must be current to the requirements of the medical specialist (see above); Must also be knowledgeable of procedures involved with helicopter transport and coordination with search crews, both ground and air; Must have the ability to operate in an ICS structure, and be able to plan, organize, and direct search and rescue missions; Team members must have training for operations in remote locations for extended periods
Same as Type IV, plus: Proficiency in backcountry navigation (including the ability to triangulate a position, ascertain a UTM, use GPS, and follow a route to a new location using a topographical map and compass); Must be proficient at conducting and directing search lines Must be able to operate the team’s equipment; Team members are not expected to operate in remote field locations for extended periods; Must have basic navigation training using a map and compass; Must have technical proficiency in personal survival in local wilderness terrain; Must have awareness of mantracking and maintaining site integrity. Must have a basic understanding of the ICS; Must have proficiency in hasty search techniques  
Transportation 4x4 vehicles that can transport each team throughout or to the search area Vehicles that can transport each team throughout or at least to the search area; 4x4s are not required, but recommended 1 vehicle that can transport each team throughout or at least to the search area; 4x4s are not required, but recommended 1 vehicle that can transport the team throughout or at least to the search area; 4x4s are not required, but recommended  
Equipment Clothing Same as Type II Same as Type III Same as Type IV Appropriate level of PPE for working environment  
Communications Same as Type II Same as Type III, plus VHF capability to communicate with aircraft Same as Type IV, plus VHF communications capability with other teams

VHF Radios for team communications; Cell Phone

 
Search & Rescue Same as Type II Equipment to support remote extrication and field transport of survivors None required None required  
Supplies Equipped to be
self-sustaining for
72 hours in local wilderness environments
Equipped to be self-sustaining for 48 hours in local wilderness environments Same as Type IV Equipped to be self-sustaining for 24 hours in local wilderness environments  
Medical Same as Type II Same as Type III, plus ability to support survivors Same as Type IV As appropriate for level of training, as applied in wilderness environment and meeting local protocols and requirements for support of the team  

Comments:

Team members will usually only work a maximum of 12-hour shifts, depending on individual unit policies and procedures. Crew availability does not require continuous availability of specific personnel, only that crews are available to those specifications, though some personnel may have extended assignments in the field. Medical support and technical rescue equipment is expected to be provided by local EMS and other technical rescue personnel for Type III and IV teams.



National Mutual Aid & Resource Management Initiative
Search and Rescue