Frequently Asked Questions
About Joining RMRU and Public Training Opportunities

RMRU is always looking for new members!

In this busy society, it is difficult to find people who will take the time to help those who are lost or stranded in the wilderness. Many people don’t have a deep inner feeling to help, or think to themselves “Someone else will do it.” In order to become a successful search and rescue team member, you should have empathy for the person who is out there and lost. Empathy will not only cause you to join a search and rescue team, but later, it will help you become a strong member. A strong member is one who attends the majority of the missions.

If you join a search and rescue team, you will find yourself hiking and rescuing in places and under conditions that you would have otherwise never had the opportunity to experience.

What are the qualifications for joining a volunteer search and rescue team? Ask yourself these questions:

Do you have experience in backpacking? Are you self reliant in the outdoors? Do you have the desire to learn new skills? Are you at least 18 years of age?

If so, you may be a good candidate for becoming an RMRU member.

Mountain Rescue- Dedication Factors

With the decision to become an active part of Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) come several factors that change ones life to a greater or lesser degree. First, is the desire to help persons lost, injured, stranded in areas considered “Inaccessible” by the media, et. al. This desire burns brightly in some members, and it costs nothing in time, money, or effort. The following factors do have costs:

Participation can be hardest when a callout occurs and we must tear away from work, family activities, warm bed, or our own recreational backpacks. Callouts do not occur during rare times we wish one would occur.

Money is a big factor as we look at a number of expenditures necessary to be well equipped and otherwise prepared to function with RMRU:

Packs – need at least two, cost $300,00 to $469.00 for good ones.
Sleeping bags – need two, cost $300.00 to $600.00 for good ones.
Tent – up to $600.00 to $800.00 for all-season, models
Boots – for summer, $200.00 to $300.00, for winter, up to over $500.00
Parka – shell, $300.00 and up, insulated, up to $500.00 plus
Pants – $200.00 and up.
Flashlights – need several, big expenditure, plus battery replacements.
Other items include sleeping pads, bivvy covers, climbing gear, foods, stoves & fuel, cooking utensils, knives, vehicle upkeep, and so on. “Deals” are sometimes available.

Effort runs in the realm of determination and motivation for physical conditioning, not letting home projects lag, familiarizing oneself with road heads and mountain trails and topography, and generally staying abreast with mountain rescue methodology.

Training is the process that merges, integrates, and implements safe, efficient, and successful missions through the above factors and the actual in-the-field exercises to learn and practice how mountain rescue is done, performed and accomplished. So, what phases do we work on? First aid (subject care); search methods; map & compass & GPS; tracking; helicopter operations; familiarization; technical rescue on cliffs where anchors to the cliff, rigging with ropes, pulleys, brake bars, various camming clamps, ascending and descending devices, and carabineers are utilized, having been backpacked to the scene. Of course, there’s Base Camp where our vans with equipment are, along with vital communications capability, record keeping, and directions from the Operations Leader.

Normally, we conduct one formal training a month, during a weekend. There are frequent informal sessions as well. Consider, over almost forty years or our existence, we’ve conducted nearly 400 formal trainings- – they are great – – always looked forward to with eager anticipation.

Hopefully, this has been an informative glimpse of who we are and what we do.

Q: How do I join RMRU?
A: If you are interested, please stop by one of our monthly meetings. The meeting time and location can be found on the contact us page. Q: What equipment does a member need to purchase?
A: This is not the official equipment list. It is just a very basic list of what each rescue member might have to purchase if he/she doesn’t already own. $300 – Internal frame pack
$20 – Ground sheet
$200 – Bivouac shelter
$150 – Sleeping bag
$10 – Flashlight
$40 – Headlamp
$20 – Compass
$10 – Signal mirror
$5 – Whistle
$30 – Helitac goggles
$30 – Knife
$25 – First aid kit
$10 – Leather gloves
? – Team shirt
$45 – Khaki pants
$60 – Sweater
$300 – Parka
$25 – Wool hat
$180 – Boots
$10 – Slings
$10 – Prusiks
$65 – Harness
$15 – Rappel Device
$70 – Helmet
$15 – Carabiner Q: How quickly do I need to purchase this equipment?
A: That depends on what missions you want to participate in. There are a few essentials (in addition to basic backpacking gear) that each member needs on ever call, i.e. helmet, headlamp, harness, etc.. Usually, the more expensive winter equipment is acquired more slowly. Q: What skills or experience should a person have before joining?
A: Basic outdoorsmanship. There are many skills that would benifit a new member, but (at a bare minimum) the new member should be able to take care of themselves in various weather and terrain, day or night. We don’t want to have to rescue the rescuer. Q: What are the minimum requirements for joining RMRU?
A:1) Be over 18 years of age.
2) Attend a monthly meeting.
3) Schedule a review board and receive a favorable recommendation, which is passed to the rescue board for final approval.
4) Pass a background investigation from the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. Q: Why can’t people under 18 join?
A: This is a requirement handed to use by the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, of which, we are all volunteers for. Q: Is there an Explorer group (or similar organization) associated with RMRU?
A: Currently, there has not been enough interest from people under 18 to start a group like this. Q: Does RMRU provide all of the first-aid training to it’s members?
A: Each member must become certified in advanced first-aid or higher from outside resources. Suplimental first-aid training is sometimes given within the team, usually by the team’s MDs or RNs. Q: How quickly will I have to obtain first-aid certification?
A: You should obtain first-aid certification within one year of joining. Q: Are there other search and rescue organizations in Riverside County?
A: There are several search and rescue organizations in Riverside County. They include Hemet Search and Rescue, Desert Search and Rescue, Riverside County Dive Team, Palm Springs Mounted Police, and Search Dogs. Q: How long will it take to become a fully certified rescue member?
A: That depends on you. The program is designed to be completed within one year. Some finish sooner, many finish later. Q: Are there any full-time, paid search and rescue teams?
A: Not in Riverside County, and not in most areas of the United States. The problem is, search and rescue requires many people all working together for a relatively short period of time. There simply aren’t enough rescues to justify paying a large full-time staff.

Training Opportunities:

Does RMRU offer search and rescue training to the general public?
A: We do not offer search and rescue training to the general public, but we do offer wilderness safety classes to children and adults when requested. Does RMRU offer a wilderness safety class to children and adults and how can I schedule one?
A: Yes we do. Simply contact us so we can determine the availability of rescue personnel for the training.