Training Requirements for MSAR Participation

There are a number of mandatory courses required to develop the skills necessary before you will be allowed on a search. They are divided by two basic sections:
1) Equine Certification
2) Personal Training

1)The Basic Horse program brings in many aspects of mounted training. Mini equine topics are offered each month and concentrated 16 hour programs are offered once per year.

2)Personal training topics include (not limited to) First Aid, CPR, Trailer Safety, Sheriff's Office History and Ethics, Map and Compass, Search Procedures, ICS/SEMS, Radio, and Equine First Aid.

Basic Horse
Participants learn and participate in mounted activities such as formation riding, basic crowd control, sensory training, proper riding techniques, search skills for evidence and lost persons and grid searches from horseback. The training follows the OES guidelines for mounted teams.
Emphasis is placed on exposing both the horse and rider to sensory extremes with SAFETY being essential. Participation in refresher courses is on-going.

First Aid
Prepares students to handle various unexpected or emergency situations such as cuts, broken bones, bee stings, shock, etc. Renew every 3 years.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation teaches the basics of compression and breathing for the patient until professional medical aid can take over. Renew each year.

Each volunteer member will provide confirmation of annual service by a reputable repair shop with receipt of work done and the do it yourself will show receipts of supplies purchased for annual repairs and replacement and submit to inspection done by qualified SAR personnel. Show that Road Kit is contained in vehicle.
Each volunteer member will complete a simple test with their towing vehicle and trailer, demonstrating their ability to back up between other vehicles, turning around in a dead-end situation, and a serpentine course. Renew each year.

History of the Sheriff's Office and Ethics
Gives the history of the Sheriff's Office in San Mateo County. You learn about the Mission Statement, Organization and Chain of Command, the Code of Ethics, and General Orders that pertain to the members of the Sheriff's Office, including Professional Conduct, Discrimination, Sexual Harrassment and Communications. Ethics provides guidelines for proper behavior while on a mission. Failure to adhere to the guidelines can result in dismissal from the program. Renew every five years.

Map and Compass
Gives a basic introduction to terms. Applied map reading with associated use of compass. Renew every two years.

Search Procedure
Defines the different types of searches and their specific uses. Renew every two years.

Incident Command System/Standardized Emergency Management System/National Incident Management System. Explains the operation and management of an official search, giving structure to participating volunteers. Renew every three years. ICS100 Online Training

Explains the basics of Radio use during a search. Includes discussion of the different types of radios available to us, choice of channels, and problems volunteers might encounter with the radios. Renew every three years. We encourage to obtain a Ham Radio licence.

Helicopter Safety
Basic Helicopter Safety including horse desensitization to helicopter, knowledge and familiarity with loading/unloading (both hot and cold), and the ability to help establish a landing site.

Rope Skills
Basic low angle skills; Assist with packaging and litter work. Basic raising and lowering skills. Our sister groups in the Sheriff's Office offer additional training (Cliff & Dive Unit, BAMRU). Key knots are:

Instructions at and iPhone App.

Equine First Aid
Explains some basic medications and their appropriate use. Renew every two years.

Explanation of Participation: Level 1, 2, and 3

The "Level" determines the degree of participation a volunteer is allowed.

Level 3
Level 3 typically is a newcomer who has not completed the Basic Horse course or many of the "General" courses (non horseback courses). Status is Probationary and the volunteer is not qualified for SAR callouts. He/she may participate in trainings and must move into Level 2 or 1 within one year to remain on the team. No Badge or patches will be issued. Application and background check forms will be held until they are ready for Level 2 or 1 qualification. They may wear MSAR/Sheriff uniform without patches.

Level 2
Level 2 is accomplished when the volunteer has completed a majority of the mandatory General Courses, but has yet to complete the Basic Horse course. Or conversely, has completed the Basic Horse but not the all mandatory General Courses. Application forms are submitted to the Sheriff's Office, including background check application. Level 2 is qualified for callout but may only provide Administrative and Ground level support. Level 2 may not be mounted except for training. Level 2 will be sworn in with Sheriff's office, wear full uniform and again, may work in any ground capacity.

Level 1
Level 1 is reached when ALL mandatory general courses are completed AND the volunteer has a certified horse AND application and background check are approved. Level 1 may participate in searches on horseback. Level 1 may operate in ANY capacity with their approved horse. Should a volunteer lose a horse etc., they can still be qualified under Level 2 to help out and work on the searches until they qualify a new horse and are back on the Level 1 callout.