King County, WA

Est. 1954

Home Donate Join ESAR

Membership in King County Explorer Search & Rescue (ESAR) is open to those who are age 14 and older, have a desire to help others in the outdoors, and are willing to respond to emergencies whenever possible.

Training Resources

ESAR members thrive not only by providing the outdoor community with search and rescue services, but also by taking advanced technical, or leadership training, participating in social outings, and by contributing to the success of their peers and the unit by volunteering as staff, or committee members. As the only unit in the county that accepts youth members ESAR is committed to providing these same opportunities for youth and adult members alike. As a result, our youth members gain confidence, leadership skills, and experience dealing with dynamic and potentially dangerous situations; skills that enable them to excel as leaders both inside and outside of ESAR.

ESAR's Basic training program will provide you with the skills necessary to be an effective Team Member on a Search & Rescue operation. You will receive extensive and demanding training in wilderness navigation, survival, search procedures and basic first aid. After completing basic training members also have access to more advanced training such as search management, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, technical rope rescue and more.

As a prospective member, you should have a passion for helping others, even during inclement weather, and on all manner of terrain; dedication to our extensive training program; a willingness to respond to emergencies whenever possible; and, positively represent King County ESAR and the King County Sheriff's Office at all times.

King County contains some of the most varied terrain in the United States: Our operations can take place just a few feet above sea level on the streets of Seattle, on the 7-8000 foot peaks of the remote Alpine Lakes Wilderness area, and everywhere in between. Our most common missions include:

  • Trail rescues or "carryouts" of injured hikers, climbers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Wilderness searches on both trails and in cross-country terrain for missing persons.
  • "In-town" searches for missing Alzheimer's patients, children and others.
  • Evidence searches at crime scenes.
  • Out of county missions to assist other Washington counties with both searches and rescues.

Basic Training

ESAR Basic Training is a comprehensive program designed to prepare new members for the challenges that they will face in the field. As a trainee, you will receive instruction and demonstrate proficiency in Wilderness Navigation & Survival skills, Search Method Theory, First Aid and CPR. You will also receive instruction on Helicopter Safety, Legal Issues, and Crime Scene Awareness. After basic training, many of these certifications must be maintained through ongoing training. Some can be renewed by going on missions, whereas others will need to be maintained through continuing education every two or three years. That said, the most important skill learned in ESAR Basic Training is teamwork.

Basic Training begins in August and runs through April; it is purposefully scheduled during the winter months to give trainees experience working in the worst conditions they could encounter on a mission. Training may involve snow, ice, wind, rain and other unpleasant situations. Trainees are expected to understand how to prevent hypothermia, to be aware of the conditions around them, and to take care of themselves and their team.

Basic Training requires a minimum of four weekends and four weeknights. The four weekends include overnight camping; the other classes consists of one eight-hour day of indoor class on a Sunday and three weeknights or Saturdays that are three hours. At least half of our successful trainees require one or more additional weekends to successfully complete the series.

For additional information about the training and courses, please download a copy of the Basic Training Orientation Packet.

Training Schedule 2018-2019

These tentative dates are valid for Aug 2018 through Apr 2019.

Trainees must successfully complete 1 session of each course, except Searcher First Aid Intermediate which must be attended twice. Prerequisites must be successfully completed prior to registering for each course.

Trainees returning from last year should:

  • Contact the training director:
  • Resubmit both the ESAR and King County application forms.

Course A: Orientation

Course A has concluded for the current training season.

If you would like to be among the first to be notified when the 2019-20 schedule is posted, please Click Here to sign up for the ESAR Training Mailing List.

Course B: Map and Compass

Course B has concluded for the current training season.

Searcher First Aid: Basic

Search First Aid: Basic has concluded for the current training season.

Searcher First Aid: Intermediate

Search First Aid: Intermediate has concluded for the current training season.

Course C: Search Theory and Field Practice

Course C has concluded for the current training season.

Course I: Navigation Practice

Course I has concluded for the current training season.

Course II: Navigation Evaluation

Course II has concluded for the current training season.

Searcher First Aid: Advanced

Searcher First Aid: Advanced has concluded for the current training season.

Course III: Mock Search

Course III has concluded for the current training season.

Operations Orientation

Operations Orientation has concluded for the current training season.


Graduation has concluded for the current training season.

Training Locations

King County Explorer Search & Rescue (ESAR) is a 501(c)(3) Volunteer Organization.

Our members respond to over 150 emergencies every year.

ESAR is King County's primary wilderness ground search and rescue organization. Our members are outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for helping those in need. 100% of funding for training, operations, and critical, life-saving equipment comes from generous donations by local businesses, the communities that we serve, our volunteers, and people like you.