PSAR winning the "Volunteer Program of the Year" award in 2015.
PSAR's Talya Havice also honored with the "Volunteer Individual award"
You’ve probably heard of Search and Rescue (SAR) before, and more specifically, Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR). YOSAR is part of the National Park Service’s Emergency Services Program; but, have you heard of Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR)? PSAR is a way to assist visitors before they may require a rescue. Yosemite's PSAR program was created as an effort to further reduce injuries that park visitors experience every summer.
PSAR Volunteers are focused primarily on preventing search and rescue incidents through public education and outreach regarding the hazards of the planned recreation activities visitors are engaging in within Yosemite National Park.
Some injuries and deaths could be avoided with better preparation and planning. PSAR Volunteers will patrol trails and ask hikers questions about their hiking plans, focusing on Valley accessible trails (Mist Trail, John Muir Trail, Four Mile Trail, Upper Falls Trail), as well as participating in educational outreach efforts to the public regarding safe travel in the backcountry. PSAR volunteers who prefer to remain in front-country areas such as campgrounds or popular gathering spots also have that option. The goal of the program is to help visitors have a safe and positive experience in Yosemite. PSAR volunteers are trained with a goal in mind of reducing the hundreds of injuries, illnesses and even some fatalities that visitors experience each year. Then, for every 10 hours of time with PSAR, volunteers are provided opportunities for two hours of SAR response training. Yosemite National Park does not provide medical direction for these volunteers to assist in anything above a BLS capacity, although experienced medical personnel are appreciated. For more information or to apply, visit the volunteer.gov website or click HERE to link directly to the application information page.
Since 1999 Yosemite has fielded its own canine search team of dogs and their handlers for searches in the park. Nick-named “YODOGs” at some point early in its history, this team has some of the highest standards of any in the United States, for both dogs and handlers. YOSAR has the only team in which every member exceeds all requirements for Type 1 Canine teams as set out in the guidelines published by the California Office of Emergency Services, which is itself the most difficult standard in use. Because of the dog teams’ extreme mobility, ability to operate in all weather without external support in the back country, and efficiency at finding people, YODOGS allows YOSAR to concentrate its other search resources to maximize the chance of quickly finding lost subjects.
YODOGS dogs must be specially trained to avoid wildlife, must maintain their ability to move constantly for up to twenty miles per day for multiple days at a time, must maintain excellent agility as they are often called on to search talus slopes etc., they must be good helicopter passengers and have the ability to compliantly ride with handlers on a winch to the ground in areas where landing is impossible. Dogs must also have the ability to rappel and be raised on ropes with their handlers into otherwise inaccessible areas.
Handlers also need to meet all of the fitness and other requirements set for other YOSAR members and must posses a strong resume of backcountry search experience. Handlers must be able to reach Yosemite within three and a half hours of the first call for assistance. Like the SARsiters, YODOG Handlers are paid for time on missions, but are not compensated for training, dog food, vet bills, search equipment, or any other related expenses (Handler or Canine). For more information on how to join YODOGS, please email
The Valley SARsite carries a patient to the helicopter at the top of El Capitan
The Tuolumne SARsite helps the Helicopter Rescue Team prepare a patient for shorthaul extraction.
Yosemite Search and Rescue (YOSAR) was established in the 1960s to respond to emergencies that occurred in the park. Because of the complexity and frequency of these emergencies, the Division of Visitor and Resource Protection requires highly trained and qualified supplemental staff to assist during these events throughout the the months in which park visitation peaks. In Yosemite Valley, this is May-October, and in Tuolumne this is June-September. The SAR team members augment the Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows Districts’ operational staff as volunteer on-call resources and in exchange the SAR team member is provided a tent cabin at the Camp 4 walk-in campground or a campsite in Tuolumne Meadows campground. These areas have historically been referred to as the SAR Sites.
Responding to an emergency is a SAR team member’s highest priority while living on the SAR Site and at any time during the summer season half of the SAR Team is expected to be available for emergency response. SAR team members should expect to spend at least fifty percent of their time as an on-call resource, ready to respond to the rescue cache. During this on-call time SAR team members are considered volunteers and are not paid. SAR team members could also be expected to volunteer time during trainings, team meetings, and with other tasks as assigned.
During an emergency incident, SAR team members are hired and paid for the duration of that incident using the AD/Emergency Hire System. All AD/Emergency Hire policies, conduct requirements, and workers compensation benefits do apply. On average, Yosemite National Park fields 200 to 250 emergency calls annually. These events range from the frequent on-trail litter carries to complex vertical technical rescue. SAR Team Members are also utilized during other types of emergency incidents and logistical operations, like SAR cache work, transportation assignments and in Tuolumne Meadows: ambulance duties. Over the course of a typical summer season a SAR Team Member can work between 250 to 400 hours.
The YOSAR program is looking for highly motivated and skilled individuals to assist in all aspect of emergency services. Historically, typical SAR Team candidates have possessed a variety of outdoor skills focusing in all aspects of Alpinism i.e., rock climbing, mountaineering, aid climbing, ice climbing, skiing, backcountry navigation, camping and survival. Candidates should also have a strong background or interest in medicine, and all applicants should currently have or be in the process of obtaining a basic Emergency Responder Certification i.e., First Responder or Wilderness First Responder. An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or higher certification with a National Accreditation is preferred. Previous Search and Rescue experience is valuable but not a requirement.
For more information or to apply, please visit the NPS website or click HERE to link directly to the application information page.
HELICOPTER RESCUE TEAM
Helicopter Rescue Technicians are full time personnel employed by the National Park Service. They do not accept volunteers, without exception. If you are interested in volunteering for the rescue team, please see above.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST IN YOSEMITE SEARCH AND RESCUE!
*Please do not contact Friends of YOSAR directly regarding the application process or hiring status of YOSAR. Instead go to nps.gov/yose/getinvolved/sar_jobs.htm