Administered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the LVMPD Search and Rescue Unit was formed in 1986 to provide a technical rescue service to the community of Las Vegas, NV. The unit is on call 24 hours a day and responds to over 8,000 square miles of mountainous desert terrain in Clark County, Nevada. All members have completed extensive training in such skills as high angle rope rescue, helicopter operations, desert survival, tracking, land navigation, emergency medicine, and many others. The unit operates by combining several highly specialized groups to complete its mission. These groups including paid police officers, helicopter support, and more than 50 unpaid volunteers.
Search and Rescue Officers
A group of seven Metro police officers serve as the command and training structure of the unit. They are selected from the rank and file of the Metropolitan Police Department and are all experienced law enforcement officers. In conjunction with the air support unit or independently, these officers perform as a fully functional rescue team. When more manpower is needed, the officers call for the search and rescue volunteers.
Mountain Rescue Volunteers
In addition to the search and rescue officers, about 30 volunteers make up the bulk of the mountain rescue team. These highly dedicated volunteers are selected from the community based on their expertise and special talents. Mountain rescue volunteers sustain regular jobs in the community and most maintain skills outside of the unit as mountaineers, rock climbers, cavers, scuba divers, firefighters, paramedics, and nurses.
The unit's support teams consist of an all volunteer, dive team, logistics team, and tactical medical team. They function independently or in conjunction with the Metro SAR officers and mountain rescue volunteers. They provide additional skills, experience, and manpower that supplement the volunteer mountain rescue team. Each support team is directed by one search and rescue officer to provide training and maintain their effective readiness.
Air Support Section
To complete the unit, four rescue pilots with the LVMPD Air Support Section fly several types of helicopters to support search and rescue operations. In addition to patrolling the skies over Las vegas, they have specialized training to perform a variety of helicopter rescue operations. They are trained for operations involving night flying, short-haul, fast rope, sling loads, and skid down hovers.
The LVMPD Search and Rescue Unit knows that quality training is our number one asset. Because of the wide variety of callouts and the high risk involved, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue (LVMPDSAR) Unit has established a rigorous, comprehensive training program that incorporates in-house training classes and emergency medicine courses. LVMPDSAR training policy requires that SAR Metro officers and mountain rescue team members re-certify every year in several core competencies.
Prior to entering the unit, each member has completed a demanding selection and training process that certifies them in the basics of mountain and rope rescue. Unit members must also maintain a minimum certification as a Basic EMT with the State of Nevada. However, most volunteers maintain higher levels of emergency medical certification.
The unit conducts at least 120 hours of bimonthly and field exercises a year to assure team cohesion and maintain a high level of skill required for the position. Unit members train in all aspects of technical rope rescue, helicopter operations, snow and ice rescue, desert survival, swiftwater rescue, map & compass, land navigation, mantracking, and search techniques. These training classes are conducted in various terrain and weather conditions. Most exercises are taught in accordance with established standards in the rescue field including NASAR, MRA, NFPA, and Rescue 3 International. Our dedication to training sometimes causes us to feel that we are only "Living To Train", but we know that we are actually "Training To Live."