Search & Rescue - Training


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Why join PCSAR?

There are many benefits of being a member of Pennington County Search and Rescue.  Our team members are dedicated rescue professionals serving the community at a moment’s notice.  Not only are we an elite rescue team, but our team members become a family and work next to other agencies from around the region.


New Recruit Training: 

Because of our schedule and availability of instructors, there are no exceptions to the training schedule.  The basics will take approximately nine months to complete, with up to two years allowed for completion.  If a trainee misses any classes, the missed classes can be made up during the training cycle the following year.  All training is done in-house by experienced PCSAR Team Members and Special Resources at no cost to you.  Training is on Tuesday evenings with a few weekend courses required. 

A recruitment night will be held in December for those interested in joining the team.  This is a night we invite those interested to stop in and visit with team members and ask questions.  A tour of our facility and a presentation will be given providing more detailed information about the team and the training schedule. 

NASAR Fundamentals of Search and Rescue (FUNSAR) covers topics such as search management, search functions, incident management, and search tactics.  The classroom portion is usually completed over one weekend.  The South Dakota Rescue Technician (ERT) course covers trench rescue, vehicle extrication, mass casualty, high-angle rescue, and water rescue.  This course is sometimes taught over two weekends with classroom and related hands-on practicals.  At the completion of this course, students are required to take and pass the SD Rescue Technician exam, at which point he/she is a state certified Rescue Technician.  Additional classes, such as helicopter operations, team standards, and winter operations are taught on the second and fourth Tuesday throughout the training period.  The Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) is taught by a member of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office and includes a classroom portion and a practical driving portion.  During training, the new recruit is encouraged to actively participate during team functions and attend advanced training sessions.  Although he/she may not be allowed to fully participate in the advanced training due to technical and safety factors, the team will ensure he/she is included in the activity. 

Upon completion of all required training, the new recruit becomes a probationary team member.  This is a three-month time period where the new recruit has a chance to respond to calls and actively participate in advanced training.  At the end of the three months, the team officers will evaluate the performance of the probationary team member and, if satisfactory, he/she will be voted on the team as a full member.  If the probationary team member's performance is deemed unsatisfactory based on team standards, the training officer will work with him/her to improve his/her skills and his/her status will be reevaluated after three months.


Advanced Training:

Advanced training will generally take place on the third Tuesday during new recruit training periods (typically March - July) and the second, third, and fourth Tuesday during the rest of the year.  Advanced trainings range from classroom sessions to hands-on activities.  These are typically "advanced" in nature, meaning either new topics are introduced that build on basic skills or interactive activities are done with little instruction (such as a mock car accident where team members perform an extrication, similar to what would be done on an actual incident).  Training is occasionally held on Saturday to facilitate a larger exercise.

Team members are required to take a yearly CPR refresher.  Everyone is encouraged to take First Responder and EMT classes but these are not required.  Each year, team members are required to complete three skills check sheets - Vertical Rescue, Extrication, and GPS and Map/Compass - to ensure each member maintains his/her proficiency.


Training Schedule: 

Meetings and training are generally held at 6:30 pm on Tuesdays, with a few classes beginning at 6:00 pm to accommodate longer teaching needs.  The first Tuesday of each month is the business meeting with training the rest of the month.  Some Saturdays or weekends will also be required for more involved training.  As a trainee, you are encouraged to attend the business meetings and advanced training classes to meet other team members, see how the team operates and ask questions.



Must be 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.


Application Process: 

  • Fill out an application form while attending the recruitment night
  • A background check is performed by the Pennington County Sheriff's Office
  • An interview with members of the Team Board of Officers