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rocksmallEugene Mountain Rescue is a volunteer organization based in Eugene, Oregon.  We formed in 1968 to provide Lane County with trained volunteer rescuers for emergencies in mountainous areas, steep terrain, or backcountry areas requiring mountaineering proficiency to work safely. Our search and rescue missions involve lost and/or injured climbers, skiers, hikers, hunters, or downed aircraft victims.  EMR is a member of the Oregon Mountain Rescue Council and the national Mountain Rescue Association.

Our primary mission is to provide search and rescue personnel for situations requiring mountaineering skills on rock, glacier, snow and steep terrain in support of the Lane County Sheriff.  Additionally we are a part of a larger network of volunteer groups in the county, the state of Oregon, and nationwide that provide search and rescue services. As part of this network, EMR volunteers may be called upon to assist other search and rescue groups in emergencies that may not require mountaineering or technical rescue skills. EMR is also called upon to assist mountain rescue organizations from other counties in Oregon, or in other states, if they need additional assistance.

In addition to search and rescue work, EMR volunteers work in the community to promote outdoor safety and safe mountaineering practices. We do this through community education projects and educational programs in schools.

How to Join

Competitive candidates will possess a combination of general backcountry knowledge and technical skills.  While we incorporate basic skills such as navigating with a map and compass, wilderness survival, and tying climbing knots into our practices, we do not actively teach these skills. We assume that you possess these basic skills prior to applying for membership. Our training program is focused on technical skills related to rope rescue systems, backcountry medicine, and search and rescue operations.

 We conduct training and missions in steep, rugged, snowy, and remote terrain regardless of the weather. You need to possess skills to take care of yourself in these environments as team member safety is our top priority.

Qualified candidates must have ALL of the following skills:

  • General backcountry knowledge: Able to navigate using map and compass, own proper clothing and equipment for travel, training, and survival in inclement weather in all seasons.
  • Good fitness levels: Capable of carrying heavy loads in backcountry situations, and adequate fitness level to participate in strenuous activity, sometimes for long periods of time. Team members are expected to perform at the "arduous" level consistent with the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Firefighter Pack Test.  This is a timed test of a 3-mile hike on level terrain under 45 minutes.  Packs must be carried during the test and will weigh 45 pounds or one-third of your body weight, whichever is less.
  • First Aid and CPR: You must have a current First Aid and CPR certification OR commit to attaining it within three months of your acceptance date.  There are opportunities for classes if you are accepted as a candidate.
  • Climbing Knots:Capable of tying basic climbing knots- the Water Knot, Double Fisherman’s, Prusik Knot, Figure 8 Follow Through, Alpine Butterfly, Münter Hitch, and Clove Hitch.

Qualified candidates are also required to have basic skills in at least one technical area below:

  • Rock climbing: Capable of climbing at least low 5th class rock.
  • Snow/glacier: Able to self-arrest, use crampons and ice axe properly, and be familiar with roped glacier travel.
  • Ice climbing: Capable of climbing WI2 or AI2. Familiar with use of ice protection methods, ice tools and crampons.
  • Rope rescue technician training: Certified Technical Rope Rescue Operations Level 1 (NFPA 1670)

Other information about joining:

  • EMR is one of several volunteer teams that serve the Lane County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue program. LCSO holds a few recruitment meetings each fall, typically in October, and prospective volunteers must attend one of them. When you sign in at the meeting, you'll be e-mailed a SAR volunteer application. If you're selected and pass a background investigation, you'll be sent an EMR application.
  • All new team members are required to attend "SAR 101," a course offered by the Lane County Sheriff's Office. It covers basic search and rescue techniques, use of radios, wilderness survival, land navigation, and other essential skills. SAR 101 is required to become a certified Search and Rescue volunteer in the state of Oregon. The training is about 120 hours, and runs from February through mid-April. There are two evening classroom sessions a week, field training on Saturdays, and a final overnight exercise. The cost is $75, which covers expenses involved and includes a manual and First Aid and CPR certification.
  • Once you have completed SAR 101, all team members must complete 30 hours of training a year, pass an annual fitness test, and maintain First Aid/CPR certification to remain eligible for Search and Rescue missions. This ensures that all team members can safely and effectively assist during a mission.

We appreciate your interest in joining our team!

Questions about EMR

What is the training time commitment if I join?

We usually have one meeting and one training event per month from September through May. In addition, we expect new members to attend a training class in basic search and rescue skills (affectionately known as SAR 101) which involves 12 evening class sesions over a 2-month time period, plus some training events on weekends.

Once you complete SAR 101 in your first year, team members must attend 30 hours of training a year to remain eligible for missions. 

If I join, do I have to go on every mission?

It is not necessary to participate in every mission. We recognize that people have other obligations in their lives and can not always participate. However, we do expect all members to put in at least 30 hours of participation per year. This time does not all have to be on search missions; training sessions meetings, and public service events also count toward the 30-hour requirement.

Can I join EMR if I am not a climber?

If you have backcountry skills such as backpacking and backcountry skiing but no rock climbing or mountaineering experience, the best route to take to get involved in Search and Rescue is to join the Ground Search and Rescue team

 This group does searches in moderate terrain, sometimes in remote settings, and does not do high-angle rock rescue or rescues requiring mountaineering skills. Meanwhile, you can begin to acquire climbing skills by taking a basic mountaineering class, such as the one offered jointly by Eugene Mountain Rescue and the Obsidians every spring. Once you have some basic skills you may join the mountain rescue group.

How many searches are there in a year?

In a typical year, there are about 1000 search and rescue missions in the state, and roughly 100 of them occur in Lane County.


Is EMR a government organization?

Eugene Mountain Rescue is a 501c(3) nonprofit, volunteer organization. We are not part of the Sheriff's Office or any other governmental agency.

Who pays for search and rescue?

Lane County Sheriff's Office has two full-time people who coordinate search and rescue missions in the county.

When someone is reported missing, the first person to respond is generally from law enforcement (for example, a deputy from the sheriff's office or one of the Search and Rescue coordinators). Once it has been established that there is a need to conduct a search, the people who are sent into the field are generally volunteers.

Unless the search becomes very extensive and lasts for multiple days, the county's costs for the search are minimal.  

 We are opposed to the idea of charging people for rescue. If someone is missing and his or her family hesitates to call because of concerns about what it might cost, it is more likely that the person will become more seriously lost or develop a life-threatening medical issue before being found.