Why you should join us

What is Search and Rescue?

Many people think that search and rescue is the domain of the full time emergency services only, but there is a strong tradition in the UK of volunteers being involved in SAR. SAR can take many forms, across many geographic areas, but all are linked by the act of “searching for and aiding people in distress: relieving pain and suffering in all its many forms”. We in Essex SAR are involved in the search and rescue of vulnerable missing persons in inland lowland areas, primarily within the County of Essex. We may also be called upon to assist for other reasons, such as evidence searches or in times of natural or man-made disasters.

Who are Essex SAR (Essex Search and Rescue)?

Essex SAR is a registered charity that provides skilled volunteers, who are fully trained in search techniques, emergency procedures, and first aid, to assist the Police and other agencies with searches for vulnerable missing persons (such as children or the elderly). Our volunteers can be involved either in an operational capacity (ie the actual searching for missing people), or in a support capacity.

Who can be an operational member of Essex SAR?

Essex SAR members can come from any walk of life, be it a doctor, teacher, scientist, homemaker, university student, office worker, factory worker, lawyer, hairdresser, retired or semi-retired, anyone! It does not matter what you do, as all training is provided, but rather who you are and your attitude to helping the wider community is the most important factor. It is this diversity of searchers that gives Essex SAR its strength. Search and Rescue requires dedicated people who work with integrity, tenacity and commitment to find and assist the missing person.

The requirements to be considered for operational membership is that you are aged between 18 and 70, able to walk 6 miles in 2 hours over a variety of terrain, have a driving licence and access to your own vehicle, and are able to pass a vetting check.

What will being an operational member of Essex SAR involve?

Essex SAR is available for callout 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and a search can last from less than an hour to up to eight hours. Whilst we understand that our volunteers have work and family commitments, you should be willing to make every effort to respond to callouts and training whenever possible. Callouts may occur while you are at work, home or in the middle of the night, and so your lifestyle, work, and other commitments should ideally be somewhat flexible to allow you to participate in searches. Whilst many employers will make allowances for employees who provide emergency services to their community, you should discuss your search and rescue duties with your employer to check whether it is possible to leave work during your normal working hours. However, it does not mean that you cannot be a member of the team if this is not possible.

You should bear in mind that joining Essex SAR will not only require a degree of sacrifice from you but also your family, friends and employer. Please make sure you are being fair to them before you join Essex SAR. If you already have a busy lifestyle with little free time on your hands, you should probably reconsider whether you should join. While the time commitment varies, members need to be able to attend at least 60% of our twice monthly training sessions in order to maintain and improve your competence in the skills and techniques needed to be an efficient searcher. This is on top of any callouts we may respond to.

However, we do NOT expect you to be able to attend EVERY callout and training session! We do realise that you are volunteering your time and that you do have a life outside Search and Rescue. All we ask is that you are honest with us and yourself as to how much time you can devote to Essex SAR.

Most of our callouts involve looking for vulnerable missing persons in both rural and urban areas primarily within the County of Essex but on occasion providing support to teams in adjacent areas. A number of those searches may occur during the night and in inclement weather. This requires members to have a reasonable endurance and to feel comfortable in the great outdoors even at night and during periods of bad weather. Searching can be very rewarding but may also be very draining, both physically and emotionally. You should be aware that there will be times when you may find a missing person in distressing circumstances.

Whilst we do have a support team, operational members are also asked to participate in non-search activities such as fund raising, equipment maintenance, organization, training, giving talks to groups, social meetings and other special events. Not everyone has to be involved in everything, but everyone is expected to be involved in something.


Essex SAR provides all training required. All new team members are required to complete a training programme covering search techniques, search theory, first aid, navigation, health and safety, missing person behaviour, scenes of crime, and personal preparedness, culminating in an assessed basic search techniques course, before they can become operational. Thereafter, all members are required to maintain their training levels throughout their membership, and we operate a programme of ongoing re-assessment. Full exercises are held monthly, sometimes at night and these are supplemented by regular evening training sessions.

As you progress you may be encouraged to train as a Team Leader and possibly a Search Planner or Search Manager.

Personal Equipment

People require our assistance in all types of terrain, seasons, weather conditions and times of the day. It is therefore imperative that each member has the proper clothing, equipment to enable them to contribute positively to search activities. Essex SAR provides a hi-vis jacket, bump cap & safety glasses, kit bag, and I.D. card, but team members will need to provide their own outdoor clothing to the standard required by Essex SAR. There is no need to purchase this from day one, but you will need it prior to going on searches. We can provide significant discounts on high quality equipment if you do not already have your own.

Support Roles

In Essex SAR, there is a place for anyone with a desire to help. People wishing to be associated with Essex SAR and to be involved in some of its activities but NOT as search team members, may apply for support team membership. This might suit people who can help with administration, publicity, fund raising, or similar activities.  Support team membership is open to anyone over 18 but is subject to a vetting check. However, having a driving licence and access to your own vehicle would be helpful.

Essex SAR Diversity Policy

Essex SAR is firmly committed to diversity in all areas of its operations. We believe that we can learn and profit from diverse cultures and perspectives and that diversity will make our organisation more effective in meeting the needs of our members and those we search for.

We are committed to developing and maintaining an organisation in which differing ideas, abilities, backgrounds and needs are fostered and valued and where those with diverse backgrounds and experiences are able to participate and contribute.

    Join Us

    If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, send us your details via the form below and we will get back to you

    All fields are mandatory