The Johnson County Department of Emergency Management Search and Rescue Team was established in 2012 under the Johnson County Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Members are volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds that have included information technology, farmers, school bus drivers, forestry, volunteer firefighters, outdoor enthusiast, electricians, retired, construction, accountants, teachers, EMTs, students, and more. We all strive to serve the residents and guests of Johnson County and surrounding areas by helping to bring the lost, missing, and others in distress home.
What We Do
We conduct ground search and rescue operations in wilderness, rural, and rural-urban interface. We do not directly perform water based rescues or recoveries, but we work with the Johnson County Dive Team when needed by the situation. In addition to working with the Johnson County Dive Team, we also often work with the Christian Aid Ministries Team 10 SAR Team (CAM; based in Johnson County; also often have members from the MO, OK, and TN teams respond), the Arkansas Alliance of Bloodhound Search Specialist (also based in Johnson County with members also in Pope, Carroll, Logan, Yell, and Faulkner counties), the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson Regional Medical Center, Pafford EMS, AirEvac, Survival Flight, Arkansas Game & Fish, US Forest Service, Arkansas Forestry Commission, Mennonite Disaster Services Search and Rescue (MDS-SAR; based in Carroll County), SAR and other responders from Pope, Franklin, Newton, Logan, Madison, and Yell counties, and many other SAR teams and emergency response agencies from around the region. We work with all these groups to best serve the residents and guests to Johnson county and the surrounding area and to fulfill the common SAR moto of “We do these things…so that others may live”.
Scenarios in which we might be utilized include lost or missing hikers, hunters, children, dementia patients, and other endangered individuals. We do not search for individuals wanted in conjunction with a criminal case.
We can also provide preventative search and rescue information to the public and groups that helps teach children and adults how to stay safe in the outdoors and what to do in the event they do get lost.
Our members are trained in
- search and rescue strategies and methodologies
- lost person behavior
- wilderness survival
- CPR/first aid
- land navigation using map/compass and GPS
- basic low angle rope rescue and patient access
- search canines
- National Incident Management System (NIMS)/Incident Command System (ICS)
Interested in joining JCDEMSAR?
You do not need to have any previous training or experience to join the team. You just need to be willing to learn and work as part of a team. There are a number of roles that you can help fill on the team including:
- field searcher
- support staff
- command staff
- photographer/videographer for trainings
- role-player during training exercises
We typically aim at having around two meetings a month. One will typically be on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6PM and last approximately 2 hours. This meeting will typically include classroom type training and team business. The other meeting will typically be on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon from around 2-6PM and will typically focus on “field” training. We may occasionally have weekend evening or overnight training as well depending on the training topic. We may also have additional training opportunities both locally and regionally as well. Team members are expected to attend as many meetings and training events as possible and communicate with team leadership if they are not able to attend a meeting. Some meetings may also be conducted on-line via Zoom when practical.
To join the team you must be at least 18 years old, not be a registered sex offender, not have any felony convictions, and not have any misdemeanor convictions for a sexual, violence, or theft related crime. A background check may be conducted. JCDEMSAR will help you get the training you will need. Some training options may require you to pay the training fees with the possibility of reimbursement after successful completion in some cases. The team will provide some of the needed equipment and you will be required to acquire some equipment yourself (typically items of a more personal nature that are not practical to be team supplied).
The process to join the team will typically involve attending a few meetings as a guest so you have a chance to get to know the team and we get a chance to get to know you. If, after attending at least two meetings, you still wish to join the team then you may request an application. Once you have returned your application, the Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator will have to approve your application followed by the JCDEMSAR membership committee. Once you have been approved, you will have to complete a minimum set of training requirements before you can start responding to call-outs. As you complete additional training, you will become qualified to perform additional tasks.