King County Search and Rescue volunteers are ready to respond when people find themselves in imminent danger or distress, such as when a hiker gets lost or injured, an Alzheimer’s disease patient wanders away from home or flooding strikes.

With over 500 volunteers, King County Search and Rescue is the largest search and rescue organization in Washington state. We respond to more than 160 calls a year, both in and outside of our county. In 2014, we completed 134 missions, volunteered almost 19,000 mission hours, and drove more than 180,000 miles. We’re funded 100% by generous donations–we do not receive any money from taxes. We are proudly 100% volunteer, and we provide our services at no cost to citizens of King County.

King County Search and Rescue Association was incorporated on February 1, 1965, though some of our member units were started in 1954.

Our Member Units

King County Explorer Search and RescueESAR (ESAR) is a youth-based organization that is the county’s primary ground search and non-technical rescue unit. It responds to more than 150 missions each year in King County and around the state of Washington. In addition to providing a team for basic ground search and rescue, King County ESAR also maintains an advanced technical rescue team, a mountain bike search team, and a group of county- and state-certified emergency medical technicians.

4x4King County 4X4 Search & Rescue‘s primary mission is to provide transportation to other search and rescue organizations by using all-wheel drive vehicles to negotiate terrain that conventional vehicles cannot. This unit is also equipped to conduct night road searches, traffic control, radio relay and other logistical support functions.

KCSDKing County Search Dogs provides canine search services within King County. All handlers are volunteers who provide their own dogs and outdoor equipment. Each team trains in either air scent search (to locate any human within the team’s search area) or tracking/trailing (following a specific person’s scent path). Teams also train in specialty search areas, such as evidence, water, disaster, and avalanche searches.

SMRSeattle Mountain Rescue (SMR) is a volunteer organization of more than 100 mountain climbers dedicated to saving lives through back-country search and rescue and mountain safety education. The organization is a primary first responder for all-season search, rescue, and recovery operations in mountainous and hazardous terrain throughout the State of Washington. We specialize in “high angle” and “high hazard” operations but also have a wealth of experience in all phases of low country search and rescue.

SPARTSki Patrol Rescue Team (SPART) provides emergency medical/trauma care in wilderness environments year round to the citizens of King County. This work includes getting to people in need in mountain areas and in avalanches, and administering medical care. SPART supports King County Search and Rescue by maintaining two equipment caches stocked with safety and rescue gear.

Northwest Horseback Search and Rescue (NWHSAR) members are qualified horse owners who volunteer their time as a horse-and-rider team to aid in the search for lost, injured, or missing people. Teams also assist in transporting equipment, such as medical supplies, litters, and radios.Volunteers are equipped to transport people to safety either by litter or on horseback.

PNW TrackersPacific Northwest Trackers Association is dedicated to using tracking skills for search and rescue. We participate in “lost person” and evidence searches, and we have developed a training program to teach tracking skills to other interested groups.

ISTKing County Incident Support Team (IST) provides Incident Command System expertise for incident management, planning, logistics, administration, and communications at search and rescue missions and large scale special events in King County, Washington. Because our training is of an all-hazards nature, we maintain capability to support other types of incidents if deployed.


KCSOWe are proud of our 60+ year partnership with the King County Sheriff’s Office, who are responsible for managing search and rescue incidents in King County.