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- What’s Happening
All search and rescue incidents in New Mexico are coordinated by the New Mexico State Police Division. The primary resources for these incidents are volunteers. In the 30 years since the search and rescue law was passed, these volunteers have been activated thousands of times. Hundreds of people owe their lives to these selfless citizens.
THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE…
Search and Rescue missions in New Mexico occur every 36 hours. Missions include overdue aircraft, lost hunters, lost children, drowning, climbers, hikers, skiers, fishermen, and other users of our great New Mexico outdoors.
The New Mexico Search and Rescue Act was passed in 1978. Even though this law was passed many years ago, it is still considered by many to be one of the most efficient search and rescue acts in the US today. In the State of New Mexico, there is on average 126 SAR incidents every year. SAR incidents have occurred though-out the State and are initiated at any time.
All search and rescue missions in New Mexico are controlled by the New Mexico State Police, allowing SAR responders to have the ability to respond just about anywhere in the State where their services are needed. Since the SAR Act put the jurisdictional responsibility with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, New Mexico State Police division, there is no need to have written agreements between counties in New Mexico to perform SAR operations and avoid any potential jurisdictional disagreements that occur in other states.
This also allows for a single standard of care to be utilized and the State can ensure that all SAR responders are trained to the single standard. The utilization of a single standard of care has made the New Mexico SAR program into a role model that many other states are attempting to duplicate.
As established by the SAR Act of 1978, Department of Public Safety (DPS) is the “control agency”, the Agency having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for SAR activities in the State of New Mexico. The New Mexico State Police (NMSP) division of DPS has been tasked with the management and administration of operations that are come under the auspice of the SAR Plan. The SAR Resource Officer is the Chief Administrator of the SAR Plan and ensures that resources for SAR incidents are available and are trained for tasks to be performed on SAR Incidents.
When a SAR incident occurs, the NMSP SAR Incident Commander is tasked to manage the incident, within the guidelines of the Incident Command System and to maintain the standard of care as established by the Department of Public Safety.
The Incident Command System is a flexible system of management that has a predetermined chain of command and is to be utilized on all emergency responses in the state. By implementing ICS, the SAR responders, to include volunteers and other agencies personnel, are assigned positions within the system and know who they report to and who reports to them.
For more information about the structure and organization of the NMSP Search and Rescue division, please see our review board.
Search and Rescue Review Board
When the Search and Rescue Act was put into law in 1978, the Act created the New Mexico Search and Rescue Review Board. A Governor-appointed board that evaluates the operation of the New Mexico Search and Rescue Plan, problems on specific missions, and makes recommendation to the appropriate authorities.
- Members are appointed for three-year terms and terms are staggered so no more than three members expire on January 1 of each year.
- The Secretary of Public Safety or designee
- The Secretary of Health and Environment or designee
- A representative of the Civil Air Patrol division of the Department of Military Affairs
- A representative of the New Mexico Emergency Services Council
- A member certified as a search and rescue person
- A member of the New Mexico Sheriffs Association
- The Chief of the New Mexico State Police
- The New Mexico Search and Rescue Resource Officer (non-voting)
- A member of the general public who shall act as chairman
Current SAR Review Board Members
|Mr. Stock Colt||Chairman|
|Chief Tim Johnson||New Mexico State Police|
|Secretary Jason Bowie||New Mexico Department of Public Safety|
|Mr. Charles Becvarik||New Mexico Department of Health|
|Major John Gravel||Civil Air Patrol|
|Vacant||New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association|
|Mr. Peter Dickson||New Mexico Search and Rescue|
|Mr. Bob Baker||New Mexico Search and Rescue Council (formally New Mexico Emergency Services Council)|
|Mr. Bob Rodgers||New Mexico State Police, Search and Rescue Resource Officer|
SAR Review Board Meetings
Search and Rescue Review Board Meetings
The meeting schedule for the SRB is as follows:
Agenda Items for any of the meetings will be matters relating to department policy pursuant to §24-15A-6 NMSA 1978. Copies of the agenda will be available 48 hours prior to the meeting. If you desire a copy, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of a reader, amplifier, qualified sign language interpreter, or any form of auxiliary aid or service to attend or participate in the meeting, as soon as possible please contact:
Department of Public Safety
New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue Bureau
2501 Carlisle Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110
Search and Rescue Volunteers and Training
The Search and Rescue Act recognizes the value of volunteer citizens who freely give their time and dedication to help save lives in our forests, deserts, and wilderness areas. Volunteers will fill several positions during a SAR incident. Once activated, a certified volunteer Field Coordinator becomes the SAR Incident Commander and has the authority and responsibility to manage any search and rescue mission. They can activate resources such as Federal, State, Local, or other volunteer resources that may be able to aid in the search and rescue mission.
Along with the Field Coordinators, the state also certifies volunteers as SAR section chiefs to work with the SAR Incident Commander during the operation of SAR incidents.
The bulk of the SAR personnel that perform duties on SAR missions are also volunteers that offer their time and skills in completing the SAR incident objects. Most are members of the 40+ volunteer search and rescue organizations in New Mexico and surrounding states. Many of these teams specialize in areas such as man tracking, high angle technical rescue, cave rescue, water recovery, missing aircraft, dog search teams, horse search teams, and 4WD search teams.
SAR Fee and Donations
In New Mexico there is NO charge to the public for any search and rescue effort by the state or volunteer resources.
If a citizen wishes to donate money, equipment or services to any of the volunteer groups who participated on a particular search and rescue mission they may send it to the New Mexico Search and Rescue Council (NMSARC), a statewide organization made up of volunteer teams which is a non-profit organization with tax-exempt status (501(c)(3). This organization has agreed to divide any donations with the Volunteer participants of the particular SAR mission.
The New Mexico Search & Rescue Council (NMSARC) is an organization composed of volunteer search and rescue teams that offer operational assets to the State of New Mexico for SAR.
NMSARC was incorporated in 1975 with the primary purpose of promoting the common interest of volunteer groups dedicated to saving lives and relieving human suffering during emergencies. NMSARC promotes the cooperation and exchange of information among member teams and between the volunteer SAR community and all levels of government. NMSARC encourages public education in wilderness safety and is committed to furthering community and government appreciation of SAR benefits and needs.
NMSARC consults with the Office of the Governor on proposed legislation to improve and facilitate volunteer SAR services and represents the volunteer SAR teams before legislative committees conducting hearings on proposed SAR bills. NMSARC sponsors training sessions for all member teams and agencies several times a year and has helped train New Mexico State Police Officers as Mission Initiators and others as Field Coordinators for SAR assignments in New Mexico.It should be noted that NMSARC neither has nor aspires to have field capability in search and rescue. NMSARC, itself, does not conduct searches or rescue people, or, in any way, call, supervise, direct, or coordinate the volunteer teams and public agencies who do.NMSARC presently consists of approximately 50 teams and agency members from throughout New Mexico, Southern Colorado and Southern Arizona. To be eligible for voting membership a team must be volunteer, non-professional in that no fees are charged for SAR services, and competent to respond to SAR requests without having to obtain permission from a sponsoring or controlling agency.
Organizations that do not meet these criteria may be voted on for agency membership in NMSARC. Agency members enjoy most of the privileges of the dues paying voting members. NMSARC is financed by money from dues and occasionally, donations are received but they are not solicited.
Among the member volunteer teams may be found para-professional specialists in land search, land search with trained dogs, mountain rescue and evacuation, water rescue and evacuation, air search, parachute rescue, road search, fire fighting, emergency medicine, long and short range communications, field food logistics and helicopter rescue.
NMSARC holds general meetings in various parts of New Mexico approximately four times a year and prospective members are urged to attend. Applications for membership are available at the meetings or from the Secretary of the NMSARC.
Operation and Administrative Procedures and Polices
In developing the standard of care for SAR operations, the AHJ has developed training, procedures and policies. Click the links below to access the documents.
New Mexico Statutes
New Mexico Administrative Code
DPS SAR Policies
SAR Standard Operating Procedures
Upcoming Trainings for SAR
Contact the SAR Resource Officer, Bob Rodgers, for any questions regarding upcoming trainings or requests for training.