• search and rescue
  • search and rescue
  • search and rescue

Kitsap County has many recreational areas that attract hunters, hikers, fishermen, and more. These people may find themselves lost or in trouble. Brush picking and mushroom picking also bring possibilities for search and rescue missions. Due to the vast areas in Kitsap County, the possibility exists for hikers and campers to become lost. Injury or death can happen if they are not found within a reasonable amount of time. Small children and the elderly often wander off and need search operations. The Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM) manages volunteers for search and rescue (SAR.) The Kitsap Sheriff’s Office deploys search and rescue. 


Search and rescue teams aid in the following: 

  • Find missing children, disabled persons, or the elderly in suburban and rural locations.  
  • Search for hikers, hunters, and other missing persons in forestlands. 
  • Assist injured persons in forest areas not accessible by road. 
  • Search for missing planes and locate radio distress beacons used by planes and boats. 
  • Search for evidence of major crimes in outdoor settings. 
  • Recover victims of drowning and other marine emergencies. 
  • Assist with floods and other disasters.


  • Personal safety, family safety, and personal property concerns are handled first.. 
  • Enrollment with KCDEM is required prior to training or an event.
  • Advanced training in and understanding of their program happens beforehand. 

There are certain State requirements that each volunteer with SAR has to complete prior to be deployed on an in County or out of County mission.  All SAR members go through unit specific training before they are eligible to be put on their units call out list.  KCDEM enrollment happens before the volunteer can even start training.

Washington Explorer Search and Rescue, Kitsap Unit (ESAR)
Adult and teenage personnel that conduct search, rescue, recovery and evacuation operations statewide.  Focus is on general ground search techniques. Builds leadership skills of youth ages 14-21Kids can join the unit at 13 1/2 and start their training, but cannot actually go on missions in or out of county until they turn 14 and all of their required training and credentials have been met. ESAR is the most active unit for searches within Kitsap County, but is also involved in out-of-county response. The ESAR training program is recognized as beneficial for both teens and adults.  The Kitsap Unit was formed in 1978. 

Kitsap County Search Dogs (KCSD)
KCSD provides: 

  • Scent discriminating: trained to search for a specific person 
  • Human remains detection 
  • Air scent dog teams  

KCSD conducts search and rescue operations statewide. Handlers must have State SAR training standards before going on missions in the field.  

Olympic Mountain Rescue (OMR)
OMR is a technical SAR that focuses on rescue activities in mountainous terrain. This group also educates the public in backcountry safety. OMR is based in Bremerton, Washington, but most active in the Olympic National Park. It is not uncommon for the OMR members to be deployed in other areas of the state. 

Underwater Search and Rescue Volunteers of Kitsap County (USRV)
USRV is an organization of volunteer scuba divers. USRV is trained to perform underwater search and recovery missions. Members supply most of their own equipment. If you have any old dive gear, radios or boats which you would like to donate, please contact KCDEM.

Interested in joining one of the search teams in Kitsap County as a volunteer? Become a registered volunteer emergency worker with KCDEM. 

Training, Classes & Exercises
Each program runs their own training.  For details, please visit program sites. 

Volunteers Make a Difference

A volunteer appreciation event was held at the KCDEM Staging area December 15th to recognize volunteers who have given so much to the COVID-19 response [...]

Disaster Shower Drill

Volunteers work through the checklist in setting up one of the KCDEM disaster shower tents. The shower system can provide heated water showers for emergency [...]

top of page arrow