Joining Wolfe County Search and Rescue

The Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team.

The Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team serves the Red River Gorge and Wolfe County (including Muir Valley) under a charter from the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the authority of the Wolfe County Judge Executive.

Since its inception in 2007, the all volunteer team has responded to countless cliff falls, rock climbing accidents, lost persons incidents and various other wilderness emergencies.

Besides being skilled in search operations, the team is proficient in high angle rope rescue, which is required for many of the cliff accidents that occur within the Red River Gorge. These rescues are often carried out in extreme conditions of weather, terrain, and location. They often require highly complex technical rope systems to be set up quickly, efficiently, and safely to reach, treat, package, and evacuate seriously injured persons to definitive care. This requires the team to dedicate a significant amount of time to training for these types of rescues.

We frequently receive inquiries from those interested in joining the Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team. Out of all these individuals, only a small handful are able to actually meet our commitment expectations.

Being a part of a rescue squad is rewarding, but it can also be a challenging commitment. To help guide prospective applicants we have created this resource to answer some of the most common questions we receive.

What’s the Time Commitment for Members?

All Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team members are expected to meet the following minimum commitements:

  • Maintain an average of at least 2 training hours per month.
  • Attend at least 50% of our monthly meetings (either in person or via a phone-in option).
  • Complete the required pre-requisite training within the first year of being accepted on the team (see the required section below).

It’s important to note that these are just the bare-minimum requirements of maintaining active membership with the team. Many of our members far exceed these minimum requirements.

What Training is Required?

The Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team training on Chimney Rock in Red River Gorge.

The process of training is never ending. There is always an opportunity to improve a skill or to learn a new one. It’s important that team members continue to train so they can do the job that needs to be done.

In addition to requiring that members maintain a minimum of 2 training hours on average per month, the following training is required within your first year of being accepted onto a SAR team in Kentucky:

  • ICS 100, 200, 700, and 800. These are free online classes offered by FEMA that include a short exam at the conclusion of the class. FEMA estimates that each class takes between 2-3.5 hours to complete.
  • All members are also required to pass a Basic Search and Rescue Class within their first year of membership. These classes are offered throughout the state periodically throughout the year by Kentucky Emergency Management. It’s typically taught as a 20-hour class.

In addition to these requirements, those who are interested in performing technical roped rescues must complete a 40-hour technical rope rescue course.

How Far Away can I Live?

We frequently get asked how far away is to far to be a member of the team. There is no easy answer to this question. The important thing is that you’re able to meet the team requirements (outlined above) and that you are frequently in the area so you’re available to respond to calls.

We have active team members (including several team officers) that live as far as Cincinnati, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana.

When are the Team Meetings?

Our monthly meetings typically take place at 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. Team members are required to attend (either in person or via the phone-in option) at least 50% of all our yearly meetings.

How do I Join?

Once you’ve determined that you’re able to meet our commitment standards, the process of joining is pretty straight-forward.

The process requires that you submit an application as well as undergo a background check. Applicants must then attend two meetings before the team takes a vote on rather or not to accept the applicant onto the team. The first of these meetings must be attended in person. During the second meeting the team will hold a vote.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the team, send us a message on our Facebook Page. Please include your email address so our New Team Member Committee can get in touch with you to start the process.