National Search and Rescue Week: Recognizing All First Responders


Image of search and rescue responders unloading people and an animal crate from truck.

Caption: March 2023 winter storms US&R CA-Task Force 4

Whether you’re stuck under debris after an earthquake, gotten lost during a hike, or having an emergency in the water, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) stands ready to deploy search and rescue teams, working with local, state, and federal task forces to ensure all Californians stay safe no matter the emergency.

National Search and Rescue Week takes place on May 16 – 22, 2024 and Cal OES recognizes all search and rescue (SAR) responders and unique task force teams who dedicate their lives to help locate and rescue Californians in need.

California Regional Urban Search & Rescue Teams

There are 10 Regional Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces located throughout the state. These task forces are comprised of 29 people specially trained and equipped for large or complex urban search and rescue operations. The multi-disciplinary organization provides five functional elements that include supervision, search, rescue, medical, and logistics. The Regional US&R Task Force can operate self-sufficiently for the first 24 hours.

Swiftwater Flood/Search and Rescue Teams

There are 13 Cal OES Swiftwater/Flood Search and Rescue Teams located throughout the state. These teams conduct search and rescue in the water, and search disaster areas that have become flooded. Rescue operations take place in collapsed structures inundated by floods, tsunamis, dam failure, or other water-related disasters, with the goal of accessing and rescuing survivors and companion animals trapped by flood waters.

California FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces

Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) involves the location, rescue, and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. Structural collapse is most often the cause of victims being trapped, but victims may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches. US&R is considered a “multi-hazard” specialty and can be used for incidents like earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials releases. The events may be slow in developing, or sudden, as in the case of earthquakes.

FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces within California

Interested in becoming a search and rescuer? If you enjoy helping people and looking for a rewarding volunteer opportunity, visit Cal OES’s SAR Volunteer website to learn more or reach out to your local sheriff’s office.



State & National Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces | California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA)

Monterey Bay Search Dogs

WOOF – Wilderness Finders Search Dog Teams