Search and Rescue

The Commonwealth of Virginia Search and Rescue (SAR) program manages and deploys a strategic and sustainable organization capable of a quick, competent, and integrated response to lost and missing person incidents. There are 21 volunteer SAR teams, with nearly 600 volunteers, coordinated by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) on call 24/7.

Missing Persons

On average, the program supports local law enforcement with a missing person search 80 times per year. Missions range from missing children, lost hikers, overdue hunters, individuals with developmental disabilities and those with mental illnesses.

Teams are Certified in the Following Disciplines:

  • Search Management Team
  • Search Team Members and Leaders
  • Canine Search Teams
  • Trailing
  • Live Find – Air Scent
  • Human Remains Detection (HRD)
  • Water Search
  • Disaster First Response
  • Equine Search Teams
  • Visual Trackers
  • Wilderness Rescue Teams
  • Cave Rescue Teams


Search services are provided through a network of volunteers under the auspices of the program, and coordinated through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).

  • Amherst Co Search and Rescue
  • Black Diamond SAR Council
  • Blue & Gray SAR Dogs
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group
  • Commonwealth Search and Rescue
  • DOGS East
  • Greater Atlantic Rescue Dogs
  • K9 Alert Search and Rescue
  • Mid Atlantic Dogs
  • Piedmont Search and Rescue
  • Rockingham Augusta SAR
  • Search and Rescue Tracking Institute
  • Angel Search and Rescue
  • Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group
  • Southwest Virginia Mountain Rescue
  • Tidewater Search and Rescue
  • Trailing Resources Inc. SAR
  • Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association
  • Civil Air Patrol – Virginia Wing


The agency provides specialized training in various search and rescue disciplines. Training is open to law enforcement, fire-rescue, EMS, emergency managers and volunteer organizations with a direct role in SAR. Training is provided without cost to participants; lodging and meals are not provided.

Virginia Missing Person data (2018)

Data collected for missing person searches demonstrate the success rate versus the time taken to respond to an incident. The quicker resources can be applied to a lost or missing person incident, the greater the chance that person has for survival.