2017 Academy Schedule

Academy Gear List

24 Hour Pack

ICS Resource Center

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The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team offers an academy once per year, starting in August and ending in October. The purpose of the academy is to instruct prospective team members in the skills and techniques necessary to work as a basic team member. The academy covers search tactics, rope rescue, navigation, and other topics. Academy sessions are held weekly on a weekday evening, from 6:30 pm until 9:30 pm and on several weekend days. A precise calendar will be provided to all prospective attendees.


Prospective members must attend at least 2 regular team meetings before the start of the academy, and complete a personal interview with team management. Additionally, prospective team members must submit to a background check, which may include a credit check and criminal history check.

Academy attendees must have current CPR certification prior to the start of the academy. Acceptable CPR certificates are:

If you have a question as to whether your current certification is valid, please ask us.


It is expected that academy members will attend all classroom and field instruction sessions. In addition to the in-class work, weekly reading assignments will be given, and some skills will have to be practiced regularly and on the prospective member's own time. In extreme cases, a prospective member may miss one session, but the prospective member must notify academy staff beforehand, and must make arrangements to "make up" the material covered.

During the course of the academy, prospective members will be required to purchase and use certain materials or equipment, including a textbook, specific helmet and rescue devices. Typical equipment costs can start at $300 and may run much higher, depending on what equipment is already owned. A complete equipment list will be provided to all prospective members at the beginning of the academy.  The class room texts are The Fundamentals of Search and Rescue (Jones and Bartlett, ISBN: 978-0763748074) and Using Your GPS with the Universal Transverse Mercator Map Coordinate System (Carnes).

While in the academy, prospective members must complete the team's fitness test, which is a 5 mile trail hike over steep terrain while carrying an appropriately sized backpack load.

Within one year of completing the academy, team members must attain certification at the "First Responder"/"Emergency Medical Responder" level of medical training.

Meet The Staff

The Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue Academy is taught by dedicated volunteers who have made a commitment to training prospective members. Some of the people you'll meet include:

Timothy Alston
Timothy is the Academy Director and Training Coordinator. He has been a member of the SAR team for a number of years, and he brings 23 years of experience serving in US Naval Special Operations, handling critical missions and projects.

Rusty Wackermann
A veteran team member, Rusty is the team's Training Officer and the primary instructor for Ropes and Technical Rescue. He also runs the SCCSSAR Type 1 Team, a group that specializes in high-altitude, all weather search and rescue operations.

Nat Bowditch
A member of the SCCSSAR Type 1 Team, Nat is the instructor for the 24 Hour Pack lecture.

Kelly Wells
Kelly, an experienced orienteer and mountaineer, is the navigation instructor.

Kris Black
A long-time member of the SCCSSAR team, Kris, the assistant director, also serves with CARDA as a K9 handler.

Jackie Tubis
Last but not least, Jackie the director of the team, has been involved in SAR for several decades and has an extensive background in SAR management.

Interested in Joining Us?

If you've decided you'd like to join our team, you'll need to follow these steps:
  1. Send an email to and let us know you're interested. You'll be added to our Yahoo! group for prospective members and invited to certain team meetings or trainings. Please include your phone number.
  2. Attend at least 2 team meetings or training events. This will give you an idea of what our team is like and whether being a part of our team is for you.
  3. Fill out and submit an application to the team.
  4. Complete an interview with SAR team management. We'll want to know more about you and your background.
  5. Attend an orientation meeting. This is held annually shortly before the beginning of the academy. You'll hear from SAR management and be given instructions about beginning the required background check.
  6. Attend and complete the SAR Academy. The academy is 8 weeks long, starting in late August and running through October, culminating in a mock search with the rest of the team and a survival overnight exercise.The academy also includes a 150 question, multiple-choice written exam which covers all the material presented during the academy.