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Search & Rescue (SAR) Team

Organizational Overview


The Will County Search & Rescue Team is a combined agency technical search and rescue team organized and coordinated by the Will County Emergency Management Agency (WCEMA).  It is comprised of personnel from WCEMA, as well as other local emergency service, law enforcement, and fire / rescue agencies in Will County.  The team fills a critical resource need of personnel that are specifically trained and certified in search and rescue incident assessment, management, operations, theory, tactics & strategy, and other necessary skills to successfully resolve technical search and rescue incidents.  The team also utilizes several trained search dogs and handlers.  These dogs (K9) are certified annually and have been trained specifically for missing person search.  The team was originally formed under the Greater Will County Emergency Services Mutual Aid Association in 1996, and was reorganized under Will County EMA in 1999.  The Team draws personnel from 5 different agencies across Will County.

NIMS Resource Capabilities Provided by Will County SAR

ESF #9 Collapse Search & Rescue Team Type IV
ESF #9 Mountain Search & Rescue Team Type III
ESF #9 Radio Direction Finding Team Type I
ESF #9 Swift Water / Flood SAR Team Type IV
ESF #9 Wilderness Search & Rescue Team Type I/II
ESF #9 K9 SAR: Land Cadaver Air Scent Type I
ESF #9 K9 SAR: Water Air Scent Type II
ESF #9 K9 SAR: Disaster Response Type IV
ESF #9 K9 SAR: Wilderness Air Scent Type I
ESF #9 K9 SAR: Wilderness Tracking/Trailing Type II
ESF #8 Ambulances (Ground) Type Other / BLS

Requesting Will County SAR


Will County SAR may be requested by any authorized public safety official by calling Will County EMA at (815) 740-0911 24 Hr. Emergency.

Be prepared to provide your name, agency, call back number, resource request, incident location, and a brief operational summary to the Duty Officer.  If you are unsure what to request or simply are looking for incident guidance or suggestions we can also connect you with an experienced Search Manager who can offer technical assistance.  We do not charge public safety organizations for our emergency response services.  For non-emergency inquiries please use the administrative number listed below.

Will County SAR does not respond directly to private citizen requests for assistance.  Persons that wish to obtain our services should make the request through their local emergency services, law enforcement, or fire / rescue agencies first.  They may have the resources necessary to assist you directly, or may request the SAR Team if necessary.

Training & Standards


The team as a whole trains at monthly, while more specialized components train more often as their particular specialties dictate.  As a whole, the Search & Rescue Team is trained and equipped to NFPA 1670 at the Wilderness SAR Technician, Swift water SAR Operations, and Vertical SAR Operations levels.  These personnel may be called to assist USAR, CART, or other agency technical rescue teams with complex incidents.  All regular team members are required to attain qualification as a SAR Technician-Basic within 6 months of appointment to the Team.  A Will County SAR Technician-Basic meets or exceeds the standards of ASTM F2209-03 and NFPA 1670 for Wilderness SAR Operations.  Yearly medical, physical fitness, background check, and skills currency requirements are also required to maintain qualification.  All personnel are trained and function under the auspices of the Incident Command System and NIMS.  Will County SAR Duty Officers are all public safety officials with extensive search management and operations experience.  All are graduates of the US Air Force Inland SAR Coordination Course through the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and hold emergency management and technical rescue credentials as well.

Will County SAR also teaches Search & Rescue courses to public safety, parks & recreation, and other volunteer organizations.  Since 2001 the team has conducted over 60 courses with participants from 6 states and have trained over 1500 students critical skills for Wilderness SAR and its related disciplines.  Courses include Wilderness SAR Awareness, Wilderness SAR Operations, Wilderness SAR Management, Wilderness Advanced Search Planning, and other specific topic courses.

Mutual Aid Agencies


Will County SAR is interested in establishing progressive and mutually beneficial relationships with other SAR agencies, both in Illinois and throughout the region.  Teams that are interested in training events, exercises, mutual aid agreements, or would like to review our training standards or policies, please contact us at the number listed below.

Additional Information
For additional information, to schedule training, or to obtain information on joining the team please contact Will County Emergency Management Agency at 815-740-8351.

If you have any questions, or would like further information about the Search & Rescue (SAR) Team, please contact our office.