PCSAR - Frequently Asked Questions

What is PCSAR?
Palouse-Clearwater Search and Rescue (PCSAR) is a non-profit, volunteer organization based in Moscow, Idaho. It is one unit of the Latah County SAR Council.
What sort of service do you provide?
We provide resources and manpower for ground searches, rope rescue, and search management. Some of our members are associated with other groups that provide tracking services and dog teams.
How often do you go on searches?
Twice a year on average, but it varies widely. There were no searches in Latah County in 2003, but three in 2006.
Is experience required?
No. PCSAR trains on a regular basis, with topics ranging from navigation and survival, to crime scene protocol. Some things, such as first aid training, are required within three months of becoming a member. There are minimum levels of training required of active members each year. Attending other training opportunities is encouraged as well.
Can anyone be a member in PCSAR?
Generally, yes! Each member must pass a criminal background check and be at least 16 years old to start out. There are many ways that a person can be involved in PCSAR. Duties and tasks needed during a search include ground searcher, Communications Officer, Base Camp Boss, and Equipment Officer. PCSAR recognizes that every person has something to offer, regardless of age or physical ability.
What are the ground searcher activities mentioned above?
Some examples: Ground searchers learn how to look for clues that lead to a lost person. They learn how to conduct various types of search patterns. And they learn how to transport a person to a place where conventional EMS can handle the patient.
Are there requirements for being a ground searcher?
Yes. In addition to the requirements shown above, you're expected to be physically and mentally able to perform ground searcher activities. And you're expected to assemble equipment to keep you and a search subject alive for 24 to 48 hours.
When and where are your meetings?
Most meetings are on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the 3rd floor boardroom of Gritman Medical Center in Moscow.  (If you haven't been to the boardroom before, you might want to contact us; it's a little difficult to find.)  Dress is casual for business meetings.

An Annual Meeting is held in March at a local restaurant, and the August meeting is traditionally a potluck supper at a park or member's residence.

PCSAR trains on a regular basis, with topics ranging from navigation and survival, to crime scene protocol. Training usually takes place on the weekend following the business meeting. See the schedule for details.

What is covered at these meetings?
Each meeting includes updates and reports from officers, discussion of upcoming training activities, recent searches, and other issues that affect the group. Generally each meeting is followed by a training session, with topics varying from month to month.
Is equipment provided, or do I need to supply my own?
PCSAR owns and maintain items such as GPS units, radios, rope rescue equipment, and compasses for use by members during exercises and searches. However, providing all the equipment required for all members to be "field ready" would be too costly. Also, members who specialize in specific areas, such as medical support, man tracking, or management, will not carry identical equipment. As a result, members are responsible for maintaining their own equipment in a field ready state. We maintain a list of basic equipment and supplies recommended for their field pack.
Is there a uniform?
We expect members to purchase a bright orange buttoning "dress" shirt. We will supply patches to be applied, one for the SAR Council and one for PCSAR. Possible shirt sources include Wal-Mart and Cabela's.
How do I become a member?
  1. Complete an application form and Sheriff's Background Check Waiver.
  2. Attend meetings and training events. Once you've passed the background check and attended three meetings, you can expect to be voted in.
How much does it cost?
Members pay a $10.00 fee at the annual meeting each March. This covers some administrative costs: copying, binders, etc. At this time there is no charge to people joining at other times of the year. You will probably spend much more money on equipment. One outdoor-oriented business gives a discount to SAR members.
What do I do once I'm a member?
More training! We expect that each member will quickly train in these areas: We expect that members will attend at least 50% of the meetings and at least 50% of the training events, subject to availability..
What other training do you do?
We work to increase each member's skills as time goes by. In addition to the required training (above), some of the topics that we cover include:
What is the SAR Council?
Latah County is unique in Idaho in that there are several SAR units, including equestrian searchers (Latah Sheriff's Mounted Posse), vehicle searchers (Vehicle Posse), mantrackers (North Idaho Tracking Services), and amateur radio operators (Palouse Hills Amateur Radio Club). The SAR Council receives funding (about $9,000 yearly) from Latah County. Each unit is represented in the Council, where funding decisions and inter-unit coordination takes place.
How can I get answers to questions that weren't answered here?
Contact an officer. See the Contact Us page
PCSAR 01/12/2011 by GB.