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Prerequisites for membership in

Northwest Horseback Search and Rescue

1. All prospective new members must be able to pass a background check.


2. These two class are completed on-line. They are FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) government required courses.IS100 This is the introduction to ICS  IS700 This is an introduction to NIMS


3. All prospective new members should be good trail riders prior to beginning search and rescue training.

4.  All trainees must complete Northwest Horseback Search and Rescue field training, and also complete the classes required by the Washington Administrative Code(WAC) and the King County Search and Rescue Association.  Field  training consists of an orientation course and three overnight weekend courses involving training in wilderness navigation, outdoor skills, and survival. WAC requirements include standard first aid and CPR, pathogens, helicopter safety, crime scene awareness, search and rescue techniques and survival, and wilderness navigation.

5.  Members must own or have access to a trained trail safe horse.

6.  Members must be self sufficient with their own transportation to base camp.  This would entail owning or having ready access to a horse trailer and towing vehicle.

7.  Minimum age is 14 for base camp operations and 16 for search missions.  Minors under the age of  18 must be accompanied by an adult.

8.  Both horse and rider must qualify by participating in field exercises, ongoing training, and mock searches.




Training Requirements

Northwest Horseback Search and Rescue requires all applicants to be good trail riders and does not train in trail riding techniques. 




King County Office of Emergency Management Emergency Worker, Vehicle and Animal Application

These applications can be downloaded from the Calendar and Training Schedule page and are given out at Orientation and must be completed and submitted to the Training Coordinator by or at the Horse Evaluations.




Horse and Rider Evaluations and Packing  

Basic horsemanship skills are tested such as a timed slalom, backing, stepping over obstructions, unusual object reaction, and loading and unloading in a trailer.  Packing for search and rescue is discussed and demonstrated.




Wilderness Navigation/Map and Compass 

Wilderness map reading, accurate compass work, and distance estimation in the outdoors.   Students will undertake a series of classroom exercises and then field examination on accurate direction and distance calculation in the wilderness.




Search and Rescue Academy  

These requirements are codified in Washington Administrative Code 118.04 and described in the Core Competencies v80 document available on the SARVAC website. The exact content, length, and refresher cycle has been interpreted through an agreement with the King County Sheriff's Office.

  • Physical & Mental Fitness

  • Legal Issues (Intro to Emergency Worker)

  • Survival Skills & Equipment

  • Radio Communications

  • Land Navigation

  • GPS Operation

  • Crime Scene Identification & Management

  • Search Organization & Management

  • Search Techniques

  • Helicopter Safety

  • Subject & Searcher First Aid

  • Rescue Techniques

  • Searcher Safety




Field Practice of Horseback Trail and Wilderness Navigation 

Participants are given a series of trail and cross-country navigation problems to solve on horseback and on foot.  Demonstration of safe trail riding techniques.  Overnight camping demonstration of survival skills and equipment. 




Mock Search  

This is an overnight demonstration of safe riding techniques, radio use, and wilderness navigation.  Participants will be directed to search for mock lost and/or injured persons who will be planted in the wilderness.  Wilderness navigation, crime scene preservation, and possible transportation of mock injured person to base will be demonstrated. 




Qualification Test

Overnight mock search and rescue event, wilderness navigation and camping, demonstration of safe, organized, search and possible horseback rescue of mock injured or ill person.  Completion of training.

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