Information for New Candidates
by Jim Gilbreath (Revised January 2018)
Extracting subject via wheeled litter
Extracting subject via wheeled litter

If you love being in the mountains for hiking, backpacking, climbing, or any other activity, you might want to consider being there for helping others who get in trouble and need assistance. Our team is a 501(c)(3)California charitable corporation dedicated to providing search and rescue services at any time, in any weather, for as long as it takes, for free.

We are a close-knit group of volunteer men and women(nobody gets paid) that has been serving Mono County and surrounding areas since 1966, and has logged over 1600 missions since then. Membership in the Team is fascinating, fulfilling, absorbing, often hard work, and fun. It can be a major source of enrichment in your life.

Each spring the Team hosts an open house so prospective new members can see what we do and what it means to be a member of the Team. It will be held this year on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 7 PM at the Team's building in the Mammoth Water District property near Maridian and Hwy. 203. Applications will be accepted, to be followed by a law enforcement background check by the Sheriff for each applicant. All approved applicants will then be interviewed by the Team Recruitment Committee. Then the candidate class for the year is selected and training begins.

Requirements for new candidates are a minimum age of 18, a telephone, a currently valid California driver's license, and the health and physical ability to participate in Team training. Technical know-how and rescue experience is not a requirement. All that is required is dedication and a willingness to learn, since the training program will teach the necessary skills. You do need adequate backpacking equipment and experience in using it. In addition, we look for characteristics which enable a person to become an effective rescuer: motivation, maturity, stability, tenacity, dependability, and the ability to work well with other people under stressful conditions. It also helps to have sense of humor!

READINESS. As with any first responder organization, Search and Rescue is all about readiness - the state of being fully prepared to do the right thing safely. That involves know-how, training, practice, and maintaining our equipment. That's why we regularly meet, train, practice, and do chores at our building.

The Team is called out by the Sheriff for a very wide variety of missions, including searches for the lost and missing in all types of terrain and weather, evacuations of all sorts, avalanche search and rescue, swift water and ice rescue, rock rescue, and many other missions of unique character as we are needed. The Team sometimes participates in operations outside the county when mutual aid is requested by other agencies. We typically average well over 100 team events per year, including 30 to 50 operational callouts.

The Team works only under the direction of the Mono County Sheriff, who has both the authority and responsibility for search and rescue in Mono County. All search and rescue mission callouts are initiated by a Sheriff's Search and Rescue Coordinator. Impairment from or consumption of alcohol or any other intoxicant during missions, meetings, and training is not allowed, and will result in dismissal.

A 9-person Board of Directors is elected each year by the members to direct the Team. During field operations, the Team is directed by an Operations Leader selected from a small number of qualified members.

The Team owns a lot of rescue equipment, and most of it is maintained in a ready-to-go status inside four rescue vehicles and a trailer, which are stationed at Mammoth Lakes and Bridgeport. When available from outside sources, helicopters are sometimes used to aid in search, rescue, and evacuations.

MEMBERSHIP. The Team currently has 27 Rescue Members, and 28 Candidate Members progressing toward Rescue or Support Membership. There are 3 Support Members who possess skills and knowledge valuable to search and rescue but who do not normally go into the field.

Candidate Members are treated just like Rescue Members except that they do not vote. They are expected to attend meetings, training sessions, and callouts. At best, it takes about a year for Candidates to progress through the required training to become Rescue Members. Of course you can't make it to all Team events, but we do need your best efforts. We do not need members who respond only when it is daylight, convenient, and good weather.

PARTICIPATION. In order to be most useful to the people who need us, and to get the most enjoyment from being a member of the Team, higher activity levels are strongly encouraged. Why would you want to do only the minimum?.

Rescue Members are expected to attend a minimum of 4 operations and 5 trainings per year, beginning in April, and continuing through the next March.

Candidate Members are expected to respond to a minimum of 4 operations each year. The year begins in April, and continues through the following March. Candidate Members are expected to attend a minimum of 10 trainings during the first year, and 5 per year thereafter. New Candidate members must show acceptable current certification of CPF and first aid skills, complete the building/vehicle check-off test, and complete FEMA ICS online courses 100 and 200 within the first 3 months of joining or be dismissed from the Team. Progress of Candidate Members will be reviewed periodically.

Support Members are expected to participate in a minimum of 5 Team events per year (missions, meetings, training, public relations, fund raising, etc.), even if only observing to gain familiarity with Team members and procedures. The year begins in April, and continues through the following March.

TRAINING. Training and practice is very important, and we have an active program. We need to work with each other frequently so that each is a known quantity to the others when a real incident occurs. Although members may specialize in one or more subjects, we expect all Rescue Members to be basically competent in many skills, since we never know which will be needed in any situation. Training may be strenuous, however we stress safety at all times. We have several training opportunities each month.

COST and TIME. If you have basic backpacking equipment (pack, sleeping bag, boots, etc.), your expenses will be limited to additional personal technical gear you may want to have. We understand that it takes time to assemble equipment, but you must have a pack check with the gear listed as Mandatory for Summer Operations before being given a field assignment. Check the list to see what you need and estimate the cost. Some optional gear is available in the rescue vehicles to be used during an operation.

Transportation costs involve gasoline and other car expenses (you will be driving to most trainings and operations). You will be reimbursed for mileage driven during operations, but not for training. You will probably be driving over 1000 miles per year if you attend enough training and meetings to be an effective part of the Team. Hopefully you will see this as recreation, because we do have a good time working with each other.

Miscellaneous expenses include proper outdoor clothing, and equipment maintenance. One help is that some of these expenses may be tax-deductible. Upon attaining Rescue Member status, equipment such as radio, GPS, and some clothing may be loaned to you if you are a reliable responder.

RESPONSE. Calls can come at any time, so it is good to be able to go without delay. Check with your employer about getting an occasional day off, without prior notice, for missions. Counting missions, meetings, training, and taking care of our equipment, you could spend several hundred hours each year as a Team member if you are really into it.

Our work requires considerable personal commitment, from learning our procedures to attending training, and finally, to responding to rescue calls. We do understand that you have another life, with responsibilities to family, employers, and other commitments, but we do need your faithfulness.