The Academy


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The Santa Clara County Sheriff 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 10:00 pm and on several weekend days. Click this link to view the 2024 Academy Schedule


Prospective members must attend one of two orientation sessions held prior to the start of the Academy, complete an application form, and attend an interview with current team members. More information about the dates for 2024 Academy orientation sessions will become available in late spring 2024.

Academy attendees must complete the POST Standard Personal History Questionnaire and undergo a thorough background check. Additionally, attendees must complete online courses in ICS 100, 200, and NIMS 700. These courses are taken as an independent online study at prior to the first day of the Academy.

Additionally, Academy attendees must hold a current CPR for Healthcare Providers certification at the start of the Academy. Acceptable CPR certificates are:

If you have a question as to whether your current certification is acceptable, 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.

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:


A Veteran team member with 30+ years on the team, Rusty is a highly respected member of the staff.  He supports the county Search and Rescue efforts in the role of Technical Rescue Team Leader, which specializes in high-altitude, vertical rock, and all weather search and rescue missions, and as the annual Academy Coordinator.


Has been an active member of Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue since 2019.  He enjoys supporting Search and Rescue in the field, as the academy Recruiting Coordinator, and as an active member of the Technical Rescue team. In his off time, he enjoys backpacking and endurance sports. 


Has been an active member of Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue since 2015.  With 18+ years in safety, security, and medical response, she enjoys supporting Search and Rescue in the field, as the team Training Officer, and as a trainer for the Search and Rescue Academy.  She is also a registered EMT with the county and enjoys training EMT students at the local college in her free time.


Is an experienced member and has been part of the Santa Clara County SAR team since 2011. He has a talent for detecting the small details that have led him to many subject finds and recoveries. His care for fellow teammates has earned him the responsibility of team Safety Officer and he leads the team's rigging committee and is the assistant coordinator of the Technical Rescue Team. ( High Angle and Mountain Rescue) Gerald works in the field often as a flanker with the team's specialty canine handlers and is a member of other specialty teams such as tracking, ATV/Off-road and the newly formed parabolic mic teams. He is also a registered EMT with the county. 

As a trainer for the Santa Clara SAR Academy and the Technical Rescue Team, Gerald enjoys teaching what he can and is highly respected for his knowledge of search tactics and techniques, tracking, navigation, rigging, high angle rescue and patient care. 


Is entering his 6th year as an active member of the Santa Clara County Sheriffs Search and Rescue team.  He has a working knowledge of the skills necessary to be an effective searcher in the field.  Dan has participated in Technical Search and Rescue situations resulting in subject find.  He enjoys sharing the knowledge he has acquired through training with other staff members.  Dan has a disciplined approach to training and his goal is to help train a safe, field-ready searcher that will be an asset to Search and Rescue.


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


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, please send your name and contact information to our Training Team to receive updates on the 2024 Academy as they become available. Feel free to reach out anytime you have questions about the Academy or the process for joining the team.