In 1976, Search and Rescue response became a State mandated responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office. Currently Jackson County Sheriff’s SAR stands at 140 members strong. We have two primary units – Rogue Valley Search and Rescue (including ESAT – dive team) and Prospect Search and Rescue. We provide both urban and wilderness rescue response and disaster relief activities. Each unit is set up under its own charter and is responsible for its own day-to-day operations, debts, and specific operating procedures. The primary units are designed to be responsible for “first response” to their geographic area, but are not limited to that area. They train in all aspects of search and rescue, including search techniques, land navigation, tracking, rescue and recovery, and first aid. Many members of the team are emergency medical technicians, and all team members are trained to a minimum level of first responder.
Jackson County has rugged terrain, ranging from swift-water rivers to elevations of 9,495 feet on Mt. McLoughlin. The climate offers 4 “real” seasons ranging from whiteout snowstorms to extremely hot summer days. Jackson County is a visitor and hiker’s paradise offering diverse terrain, seasons, and environments for the outdoor enthusiast. Along with these come dangers and challenges that often result in Search and Rescue missions.
Approximately 32 miles from Medford is the Mt. Ashland Ski area, which routinely draws various levels of skiers and snowboarders each year. In addition to the many established and maintained downhill runs on Mt. Ashland, an extensive network of cross-country ski and snowmobile trails also exist throughout Jackson County.
Within Jackson County, there are many recreational opportunities, varied enough that Search and Rescue calls are possible 365 days of the year. These opportunities include, but are not limited to, camping, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, ATV/motorcycle riding, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, swimming, kayaking, rafting, boating, hunting, and fishing.
The professionals on the Search and Rescue team are volunteers who come from all walks of life and from across the community to carry on the tradition of helping others by dedicating time, information, skills, equipment, and compassion.
Belonging to the SAR Team means being physically fit and physically active. Team members ride horses, camp, endure temperature and other weather extremes, hike, climb up cliffs and down caves, participate in rope rescues, as well as urban search and rescue, In addition they are also technically astute using global positioning systems (GPS), and various computer programs.
The SAR Team volunteers are on-call 24 hours a day. They may be called upon by the Sheriff to conduct a search for and rescue of lost or injured persons. The SAR Team also handles other duties as assigned and they may also be called upon to assist in mutual aid searches in other counties.