Volunteering for Search and Rescue

First, about employment:  all positions are unpaid. As with the other ground search groups in the Province, SARBC does not have any paid personnel. If you are looking for employment in Search and Rescue please see the Coast Guard (CCG) or Military as a Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Technicians.

If you would like to volunteer in British Columbia for Search and Rescue , determine which group you would like to volunteer with. This depends on a few things:

Where you live – SARBC is located in Greater Victoria. At the minimum, our response personnel are expected to attend weekly continuing education sessions as well as periodic upgrade training, so if you don’t live in the Greater Victoria area this is going to be difficult. If you can’t commit to the attendance requirement due to your location and still want to be a member of the SSU response team, please read the Specialists section.

what you are looking for – the groups you see on the news that respond as soon as a person is missing – that is NOT us (except for Project Lifesaver). While we have been on the news a few times, SARBC does its best to avoid appearing in media. The groups that you are usually seeing are the local responding search and rescue team. Generally these groups are affiliated with Emergency Management BC (EMBC). EMBC is the government agency tasked to ensure ground SAR resources are available for the Police for searches, rescues, disasters, etc. If you are interested in becoming a member of one of these groups, please go to the Emergency Management BC’s web site. Several of their groups are listed. If you can’t find a web page for the group you are looking for then try the National Search and Rescue Secretariat and look under BC. Or call us and we will see if we can locate a number for you.

So why would you choose SARBC’s SSU?
We exist to augment the search effort. Our mandates include providing a post search suspension option for families to seek additional help and providing specialized resources that are not readily available to Search and rescue teams within the Province. We do not arrive on scene by jumping out of plane or driving at mach 2. We prefer to come in quietly, do our job, then leave just as quietly.  Almost as if we weren’t even there.  We aren’t there to diminish the quality of the initial search;  we are their to get closure for the family of the missing person.  We have no desire to be forefront. When traditional methods have failed, we may be able to assist. We are not wannabe’s, we are comprised of people from all walks of life that believe in what SARBC represents. If you are interested in learning and using advanced technology, are comfortable searching mainly at night, are able to travel anywhere in the Province by land, air or sea and, last but not least, able to work within a structured command environment, then this is the process and requirements to volunteer with the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia – Special Services Unit.

Fill out an application form. This must be done in person at our office at 23 West Burnside Road. An interview will follow the completion of the application. If your application is accepted you will be advised when the next SAR Level 1 course is being offered. 100% attendance at this course is mandatory. After completion of the course, if you are selected to become a probationary responder of the SSU, you will be required to sign documents (ie waivers, etc) and submit to background checks. Successful completion of the course does not guarantee a position (albeit probationary) to the response unit (SSU).


  • Standard First Aid training
  • Ability to commit to continuing education requirements
  • Ability to work within a structured team environment

Please keep in mind that even if you meet the requirements, acceptance is not guaranteed.

FINAL NOTE Volunteering with a search and rescue group is not a walk in the park or a Sunday picnic. It is hard work. Seldom will you be working on nice sunny days. Usually it will be cold, wet, raining and sometimes even snowing. You will be expected to work well in a group environment, follow direction, adhere to all Standard Operating Guidelines, Policies, etc. and above all, understand you are here for the missing subject.