Paul Wellman

Hiking’s Lost & Found Department

Getting to Know Santa Barbara’s Search & Rescue Crew

On-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and responsible for more than 2,500 square miles of terrain, Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue is an all-volunteer branch of the Sheriff’s Department that helps people who are lost, injured, or reported missing in the region’s vast wilderness. Not only do these 31 enlisted and highly trained volunteers come to the aid of those who have wandered off the trail, they also perform dangerous rock-wall rescues, save people from swift-moving rivers, and respond to over-the-side vehicle accidents. Recruitment for more volunteers starts again this fall, but be forewarned: It takes an enormous time and energy commitment. What follows are two tales of Search & Rescue, as well as some important information for hikers everywhere. For more information, see

• Search & Rescue’s Got Your Back: How I Got Lost in the Woods and Encountered the Guardians of the Wilderness by Martha Sadler

• Lost, Found, Enlisted: City Girl-Turned-Search & Rescue Volunteer Recalls Incident that Inspired Involvement by Valerie Walston

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