Initial CoCoSAR Full Team Survey Results

Over 100 team members took the survey and gave us valuable insight into what we as a team are doing right and where the team might have some opportunities to improve. Overall, 92 percent of team members are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our team.

Below are a few more highlights.

  • 97 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our overall team performance.
  • 91 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our search preparedness.
  • 96 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our monthly full-team trainings.
  • 74 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our ability to conduct an after-action review.
  • 95 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our ability to conduct in-county searches.
  • 91 percent are satisfied or strongly satisfied with our ability to conduct out-of-county searches.
  • 92 percent agree or strongly agree the expectations of a CoCoSAR team member have been clearly explained.
  • 63 percent agree or strongly agree they receive the proper supervision and feedback on their SAR performance.
  • 94 percent agree or strongly agree they have received the proper training to meet the expectations of our SAR duties.
  • 78 percent agree or strongly agree there is opportunity on the SAR team for advancement.

Over the next several weeks, the Command Staff will conduct a full analysis of the survey results. We'll share the information with the full team in September.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey. Your feedback is extremely valuable and a critical component to the success of the team.


Team Commendations, June 2013

Joe Keyser
Joe under took a large task of organizing, scheduling, and planning the recent Type 1 Academy. His overall supervision was definitely “hands on” and his direction challenged a new group of Type 1 students. In end this will greatly benefit the SAR Team.

Tim Murphy
‚ÄčTim was the driver for a recent series of USAR Rope Rescue Trainings that many team members from all levels of experience took advantage of. In addition to the scheduled trainings Tim even agreed to meet students for some extra sessions for some additional trainings. The result will also greatly benefit the SAR Team in our future searches. Good work to Joe and Tim and thank you for you dedication & membership to the SAR Team!

Reminder: Team Participation Requirements

We have an excellent Full Team Training coming up in May, so it's a good time to remind everyone of the Minimum Participation Requirements each team member must meet by the end of the year to maintain their team membership.

  • Each Team Member must attend & participate in at least 6 of the 12 (5 if you are active in an official SAR Resource) Full Team Trainings. We have 8 left in the year.
  • We all must log at least 120 hours as well by year’s end.
  • Lastly, we each must show participation in some Full Team and/or Hasty Searches. We realize that Call Outs have been on the light side so far this year, but by the end of year each team member should be able to attend at least one search at the minimum.

SAR Participation Requirements are here for very good reasons–mostly for your safety and the safety of your team members you are in the field with. Thank you for your membership on the team and your service to your community. Let Walter Eichinger know if you have any questions!

Logistics Promotions

Josh Israel has been promoted to sergeant and Ed Griffith to corporal on the Logistics Division. Josh has been part of the Logistics group for two years and has done an outstanding job as a corporal. Ed Griffith has been with the team for short period of time and has shown great knowledge and enthusiasm for logistics.

Please congratulate Josh and Ed on their promotions.

Team Members Topping the Charts

During the course of 2012, CoCoSAR received 57 calls for aid from various jurisdictions. Of these calls, CoCoSAR launched 621 pairs of boots to 35 searches (K9, evidence and lost subject) throughout the state in 2012. Nineteen were in county, while 16 were out of county. The short list below represents those members who got boots on the ground at multiple search venues throughout the year.

Team trainings are important to maintaining one’s perishable skills. The 13 names below represent those members that were either polishing their skills to a fine shine or they were the proctors helping to refresh team members’ skills. 


Most people have lives. Others seem to contribute most of their time to CoCoSAR’s mission. These members’ hours represent compilations of time spent on staff functions, searches, special details, proctoring, skills development within a resource, and a host of other activities that support the team and maintains its readiness.

50 Percent Attrition Every Two Years? Not at CoCoSAR

By John P Banuelos, Academy Sergeant

The rule of thumb in Search and Rescue Team circles is that there is an attrition rate of 50 percent every two years for a new Academy class. Based on the latest team roster, CoCoSAR does not follow convention.

Our team can proudly state that our attrition rate is closer to 50 percent every three years and six months based on data going back to 2007. While we haven't yet hit our objective of 50 percent every four years, the current number speaks volumes of our members themselves and their desire to be on this team.

My class of 2009 followed the projection line of attrition almost perfectly. I miss every member from my class whose name is no longer on the team roster. As a class, we always rooted for all our fellow members to persevere through navigation, the Type 2 hike, UNO, and myriad other small challenges. We smiled whenever we saw each other at a new search, ready to link up and once again take on the ardor of a fresh challenge.

While 14 of my classmates are now gone, 93 of you from the classes of 2010 to the fresh class of 2012 have taken their place. Like those before you, I smile when I see you. I join you as my new brothers and sisters in arms at our latest challenges.

I hope that I will see all of you, from our latest classes to the grizzled veterans who came before me, for many more years to come. 

Nancy Hart, Rick Najarian, Karyn Corcoran, Larry Fong are part of the line of past Academy sergeants, along with Diane Moschetti, Diane Blue and Wilma Murray as the  über-recruiters that need to be acknowledged as contributors to our solid retention rate. 

Logging Your Hours – Why It Counts

Though it may not seem like it, one of the most important things we do (and apparently most difficult for some team members) is log volunteer hours. From the very early days of the Academy, new members are told to keep track of their hours and then enter them into the database on the website.

Why do we do this? Logging hours provides a means for record-keeping and, at the end of the year, all those hours are compiled and presented to the Office of the Sheriff. The hours demonstrate both how much time team members contribute and how that time is distributed. Last year, CoCoSAR members put in some 40,000 hours!

Included in this record-keeping is a way to determine whether or not members are maintaining their expected contribution of 10 hours per month (averaged throughout the year), and how many searches and trainings each member attends. Those who fall behind will receive “counseling” to address any concerns and after a period of time, if the hours do not pick up, those individuals are asked to leave the team.

Because members sometimes are confused about what hours to log – how many and for what activities – it helps on occasion to clarify the terms. As Capt. Kovar has stated, “People should use their best judgment when logging hours.”

That said, the following are legitimate activities to be logged:

  • All searches, from “portal to portal,” which means from the time you leave your home/office (or wherever) until you return (discounting any stops for non-SAR business)
  • All trainings as above, from portal to portal
  • All hours spent proctoring an event, as above
  • All approved and/or calendared activities that are undertaken, such as planning meetings, writing for the Callout, building items for USAR trainings, helping with logistics, hiding for the dogs, etc.
  • All Command Staff and staff meetings
  • All calendared T-1, 2 or 3 hikes, whether as an official hike participant or not

The following should NOT be logged:

  • Hours studying for EMR or any other at-home practice
  • Time shopping for or packing up/rehabbing gear
  • Social events (whether calendared or not)

The other issue some members have is in deciding under which category to log items. It is important not to lump times for separate activities together. If, for instance, you go on a training that then morphs into a search, be sure to separate those hours and log them appropriately. Planning meetings would be considered “staff functions,” as would writing Callout articles. Hiding for the dogs, logistics, etc. would fall under the category of training. And so on. Be specific in your description, as well, such as “Lucido search,” rather than simply “search” and “USAR monthly training” rather than just “training.”

Get in the habit of logging hours right away after an activity if you have easy access to the website. Or, if you don’t, keep a simple written log by your gear that you update as soon as you return from each event. Then just be sure to upload the info every couple of weeks at least. It only takes a few minutes to stay on top of it and you’ll be glad you did.

Joe Keyser named MRG Training Sergeant

Joe Keyser has has been promoted to the newly created position of Mountain Rescue Group Training Sergeant. Joe is an experienced backcountry guide and has been a regular participant on MRG trainings. He has a thorough understanding of the curriculum and field work candidates must complete to become Type I searchers. Joe joined CoCo SAR in 2009, and completed his Type I Training during the summer of 2010. Later that year Joe accepted the role of MRG logistics corporal, where he initiated best practices in setting up gear records (including rope logs critical to meeting safety standards), completed the MRG gear requisition, and rehabilitated the cache on the MRG truck