Did you ever wonder who responds when “911” is called and Butte County Search and Rescue (BCSAR) is dispatched? Many people needing our services meet us on a truly awful day in their lives. A family member is missing, a vehicle has gone over the edge or a hiker is injured in a remote area. Perhaps an unmanned boat is found drifting or that fun trip to the snow has turned into disaster.
BCSAR is an all-volunteer team comprised of ordinary citizens of this county, many with full-time jobs. We serve at the discretion and direction of the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. When a “911” call is received requesting our services, pagers throughout the county are triggered and team members leave what they are doing on a moment’s notice to respond to the call. Many times, this summons occurs in the middle of the night. Family is left behind and there is no way of knowing how long we will be gone.
Who We Are
Our team members are an eclectic group from a variety of backgrounds and professions. There is no particular individual that is drawn to search and rescue work. Over half of our members come from Information Technology, engineering or sales/business owner’s backgrounds. Another 15% have a background in administration, supervision or education. The remainder of the team has a background as commercial drivers, contractors or firefighters. Our team is fortunate that many employers understand the service we provide to the community and often accommodate our need to respond during working hours. We are an amazing cross section! Only 15% of our team is currently retired with only 8% joining BCSAR after retirement. The other 85% juggle the demands of work, family and BCSAR. We all feel a sincere desire to serve our community with 42% of our team is native to Butte County.
In terms of demographics, our “average” search and rescue member is 48 years old; the youngest member is 24, the most “seasoned” is 72. Odds are you will meet a male, but 15% of our team is female. Only two members of our team respond as a couple.
If you’re looking for experience, our team currently has over 200 years of experience with 10 team members having more than 10 years of participation. We are constantly looking for new members who have the time and desire to help!
If all of us were to respond to a call, you would see over 40 search and rescue volunteers. In addition to leaving our home and family members, over 50 pets would also be left waiting for their beloved owner’s return. But not all “pets” are left behind. We have several mission ready K9’s, who respond to searches with their handler. It is an exciting job for any K9 who earns this privilege. They live for the search mission along with the weekly training opportunities. They quickly learn to recognize the sound of the pager and the sight of the BCSAR uniform.
What we do
BCSAR has a dual role, which includes both “search” and “rescue”. Our members are required to complete introductory level training in both disciplines. A member is then allowed the freedom to concentrate their training efforts by developing skills necessary to search for a lost victim or skills necessary to rescue those in peril.
We are also a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation with a need to attend to business. Half of our members have served on our Board and taken a leadership position at one time or another. We have the responsibilities for training our members, recruiting new members, providing positive public relations and maintaining our equipment.