Join the Team

Next Recruitment Begins in May 2021

SDMRT accepts new members only once annually, and the recruitment period for 2020 is completed.  

Please download and fill out our new member application and bring a copy of your application to the meeting. Remember we want to hear about your extended backpacking. 

Here's a little more info about the requirements for joining our team:

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Must be in excellent physical condition.

  • Must have recent (generally within the last couple years) extensive backpacking or mountaineering or equivalent experience.  In essence, you must have experience that demonstrates that you are entirely self-sufficient in a wilderness setting for at least a couple day and nights.

  • Must pass a Sheriff's Department background investigation.

  • Must be a US citizen, or legal alien with US citizenship application submitted.

If accepted as a prospective member, you MUST (no exceptions) also attend our Recruitment Field Training from 6 pm Friday, October 15 through afternoon/evening on Sunday, October 18, 2021.  Block that weekend on your calendar for SDMRT if you plan to join the team.  Unfortunately we cannot make exceptions for this training.

New member application form:


Our team is a close-knit group of men and women dedicated to providing professional search and rescue services in any weather, at any time, and on any terrain. We operate under the direction and control of the agency responsible for search and rescue at the operation site, usually the local county Sheriff's department, and for that reason, must have members with high dedication and proficiency. The work requires considerable personal commitment, from learning our procedures to attending trainings and, finally, to responding at any time to rescue calls. The time involved, costs, and responsibilities are explained below. You should seriously consider these factors before applying for membership; however, if you feel you are qualified, the rewards are well worth the investment you will make as a volunteer rescuer.


SDMRT is a California nonprofit corporation, a member of the nationwide Mountain Rescue Association, and a recognized leader in the field of Search and Rescue. We go anywhere we are called, including Northern California and parts of Mexico. Joint searches, which make up most of the Team's operations, are usually conducted with the San Diego Sheriff's Reserve Search and Rescue Bureau, other Mountain Rescue teams or other volunteer teams. The Team was founded in 1967 and has logged over 1500 missions since then.

Membership is divided into two major categories: Rescue Members comprise the majority of the Team and perform all normal field work, and Trainees who are persons in training to become Rescue Members.  A seven-person Board of Directors is elected each year by the membership to direct the Team's activities; however, the full membership participates in all policy decisions. During field operations, the Team is directed by an Operation Leader selected from a small number of qualified members.


Prospective members must be 18 years old, in excellent physical condition, and have recent backpacking, mountaineering, or equivalent outdoor experience. As a minimum you must be self-reliant and comfortable in a wilderness setting on the type of terrain and under the conditions in which we must operate. This means you must have adequate backpacking equipment, and know how to use it. In addition, we look for characteristics that enable a person to become an effective rescuer - motivation, maturity, judgment, stability, tenacity, leadership, and the ability to work well with other people under stressful conditions. It also helps to have a sense of humor!



Specialized emergency rescue units must be composed of disciplined, highly trained, dependable people. The lives of fellow Team members, as well as the person being rescued, depend on each member performing capably in a complex and usually exhausting situation. For this reason, each Trainee must meet the minimum requirements shown on the training requirements list before becoming a Rescue Member. All training is provided by the Team except the medical certification, which can be obtained through outside sources. It usually takes at least one to two years to become a fully qualified Rescue Member by completing all requirements during regular Team training evolutions. Trainees may participate in operations, however, after completing a basic training course and fulfilling certain other requirements. We are generalists. Although certain members may specialize in one or more subjects, we expect all Rescue Members to be competent in all skills, since we never know which will be needed in any situation. Training may be strenuous, but we stress safety at all times. Operations are run on a semi-military structure, requiring members to follow the legitimate orders of the Team leaders.



You will be expected to attend three events each month. The Team business meeting is held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:00 PM. On the weekend after the Team meeting, we hold our monthly field training, which usually runs from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Classroom training, dealing with the next field training subject, is held at 7:00 PM on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Within the first three months after acceptance, Trainees must attend two Team meetings, two classroom trainings, and two field trainings. After that, they must attend at least 50% of the Team meetings, indoor trainings, and field trainings and at least 10% of the operations in order to remain on the Team. Actual operations can come at any time, so it is important to be able to go without delay. Check with your employer about getting occasional day off, without prior notice, for searches. Counting everything, you can expect to spend between 400 and 800 hours each year as a Team member.


Although the Team provides some equipment such as radios, each member must pay all of his or her expenses. SDMRT is financed entirely by dues and contributions. The major expenses are equipment and transportation. If you have basic backpacking equipment (pack, sleeping bag, tent, boots, etc.), your expenses will be limited to additional special rescue gear such as mountaineering equipment, helmet, uniform, and winter gear. See what is mandatory on the PERSONAL EQUIPMENT LIST before participating in trainings and operations. Check the list to see what you need and estimate the cost.


Transportation costs involve gasoline and other car expenses as you will be driving or carpooling to most trainings and operations. Dues are currently $35 per year, $15 of which goes to the National Mountain Rescue Association (MRA). Miscellaneous expenses include uniform, books, special trainings, and equipment maintenance and replacement. You will also need a cell phone or pager capable of receiving text messages via email. Starting off, expect to spend $500 to $800 on Team activities, with more depending on your commitment. One help is that much of these expenses may be tax-deductible (check with your individual tax adviser) and that local mountaineering stores may give special discounts to members.


Mail: SDMRT, P.O. Box 81602, San Diego CA 92138

© 2016 San Diego Mountain Rescue