Thank you for your interest in joining Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit. We are an all-volunteer, non-profit team of rescue professionals who are always looking for qualified people to join our team. As a member of the Mountain Rescue Association, we are not your average search and rescue team. In addition to what is expected of most Search and Rescue (SAR) teams, we specialize in high-angle rope rescue, extended back country and mountain rescue missions. If you think you have what it takes to be part of an elite mountain rescue team, read on.

Who we are

RMRU is a group of volunteers trained and ready to respond to wilderness emergencies. At any hour of the day, law enforcement agencies, national park or military officials may call upon us to aid an unfortunate victim. We are on constant alert to search for and effect the rescue of hikers, skiers, rock climbers and outdoors enthusiasts whenever and wherever accidents occur, primarily in Riverside County. We have however traveled south into Mexico, north into the Sierras and to Nevada and Colorado on search and rescue missions.

We are comprised of over thirty volunteers who come from all walks of life. We regularly leave our jobs (or, in the middle of the night, our warm beds) to respond to a call for help. The members make up a small but spirited group of mountaineers who spend one weekend each month training to sharpen our skills. Beside acting as highly competent rescue workers, we also work closely with schools, clubs, church groups, and Scout troops throughout the area to teach mountain safety. Our members have been honored nationally for their contributions to wilderness survival education.

Who we are looking for

The ideal applicant would be an accomplished mountaineer with years of experience in mountaineering, climbing, and back country survival. Rarely does anyone like this apply. The more experience you have in backpacking, hiking, climbing, or mountaineering, the better. At a minimum, you should be in top physical shape. While we don’t have specific requirements for existing skills in new applicants, we are a mountain rescue team, and this implies that the team has certain skills and abilities. You should be able to backpack overnight and be comfortable spending a night in the back country. RMRU does not teach basic hiking and backpacking skills, as this team is comprised of experienced outdoor enthusiasts. You will be expected to actively train for certification for search and tracking, technical rock rescue and technical snow/ice rescue. Consider if you are up to the physical and mental challenges of this type of training. The most important traits we look for in applicants are a genuine enthusiasm for the outdoors, a desire to help others, a willingness to learn physically challenging skills and the resources (both money and time) to actively participate on the team.

Committing your time and resources

Do not underestimate the commitment of money and time. Members pay for all of their own gear, though we do get discounts from some manufacturers for gear that you would use on a rescue. Also, several members will loan or sell old gear. You need not buy all the necessary equipment at once, though by the time you have been on the team a couple of years you will likely have spent thousands of dollars on gear. Do not underestimate the amount of time you will have to dedicate to be an effective member of the team. We meet one night per month, train one weekend per month (usually including an overnight trip), and average several missions per month. Be realistic about your ability to spend that much time away from work, family, friends, and other personal endeavors. Talk this over carefully with family and significant others. Make sure they eagerly support you before committing yourself to being a member of RMRU. With that being said, we are a fun-loving group of outdoor enthusiasts and want new members that will fit well within our SAR family.

Ideal applicant skills
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Canyoneering
  • Backpacking
  • Medical experience
  • High level of fitness
Essential skills
  • Physical fitness
  • Extensive hiking experience
  • Backpacking experience
  • Backcountry camping experience
  • Enthusiasm and time to work to develop skills in mountaineering, rock and snow climbing and fitness

Initial training for new members

New members will be expected to attend some new member trainings to get a basic idea of how the team works and learn about equipment that they will need to become a fully active member. As a new member you will be assigned a mentor who will assist you with:

  • Personal Equipment Inventory and RMRU Equipment Familiarization. Evaluating personal equipment to see what is needed to be mission ready. Go over RMRU equipment in the vehicles and how to use the team radios.
  • Trailhead Familiarization. Drive to and meet at relevant trailheads RMRU is regularly sent to. Take GPS coordinates at each location and discuss the environment that you would encounter in each area.
    Operating the current RMRU vehicles and properly store and prepare them for missions.

Additional training

Upon completion of the Initial Training for New Members, you will have been exposed to a portion of what RMRU does and its equipment. But there is still special training involving Helicopters, Snow and Ice, Technical Rock, and Tracking Skills you will be required to learn. This is only the beginning of your training. Team members train monthly to learn new skills and keep old ones sharp. RMRU is constantly training and invests a great deal of time and effort in training new members.

Continual growth as a team member

Effective team members are constantly training in familiar disciplines, cross training in new disciplines and building their knowledge to become more effective rescuers. Team members expose themselves to many disciplines on their own time

  • Ice climbing
  • Alpinism
  • Backcountry skiing
  • Trad climbing
  • Trail running
  • Expedition climbing
  • Advanced medical training
  • Canyoneering
  • Big wall climbing

The application process

The application process is roughly as follows:

  1. The potential new member must attend a monthly meeting, request an application, and return the application to the New Member Coordinator.
  2. The potential new member must attend an interview set up by the New Member Coordinator once he/she receives and reviews the potential members application.
  3. Once the potential member passes the initial interview, his/her application needs to be approved by the RMRU Board of Directors (BOD).
  4. After BOD approval, the New Member Coordinator will give the potential new member a Sheriff’s Volunteer Background Application. This application must be returned to the New Member Coordinator.
  5. Once the background check is approved, the potential new member will be fingerprinted and interviewed by the Sheriff’s Liaison.
  6. Finally, upon Sheriff’s approval, the potential new member becomes an RMRU Training Member.

A RMRU Training Member: Person fully accepted as an RMRU member. Must attend 6 missions, 9 trainings, and 9 meetings per year. Training Members are to respond to all missions they are available for. At the mission it will be up to the Operations Leader, the Field Team Leader, and the Training Member to decide if the Training Member is allowed to go into the field. NOTE: Potential New Members should continue to attend monthly RMRU pre-meeting trainings and meetings throughout the application process.

Where and when do we meet

The team meets on the first Wednesday of each month in Hemet. For more information on coming to one of our meetings please CONTACT US

Taking the first step

Again, thank you for your interest in joining RMRU. More information on the team, write-ups select missions, past newsletters and team history can be found throughout this website.

If, after carefully considering all the above, you are ready to join a great team of mountain rescuers, you need to attend a team meeting and meet the team.