Montrose Search and Rescue Looking for New Members

Members of the Montrose Search and Rescue team headed to the Chilao area on Sunday to work on guiding lines. The team is holding tryouts for new members on Nov. 13 at Deukmejian Wilderness Park.
Photo provided by LASD

By Bethany BROWN

For the first time in its history, Montrose Search and Rescue is holding a recruiting event.

The Montrose Search and Rescue team will hold team tryouts for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, 3429 Markridge Road. Applicants will be tested on a timed two-mile uphill hike with the route taking place along the Crescenta View Trail. Check-in is at 7:30 a.m. and the hike will begin at 8 a.m.

Event organizer and the assistant director of LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Mike Leum said most of the team’s prior recruitment efforts have been done via social media and that by holding an actual tryout they hope to find the candidates with the physical strength and motivation to accomplish the hard work that joining the team entails.

“There’s no end to people who want to help people – and that’s fantastic – but the reality of what we do is you need to be able to hike in the middle of a snowstorm carrying a 50-pound pack at 10,000 feet elevation,” Leum said. “There’s no denying the physicality of search and rescue work … it’s very physical and arduous.”

The tryouts will serve as the first filter – physical fitness – in the application process. The team is looking for those who can finish the hike in an hour or less and Leum noted that backpacks do not need to be worn for this event.

Leum emphasized that the application process stretches beyond the tryouts. You must, among other requirements, obtain an EMT license, apply to become a reserve deputy sheriff and successfully pass MSR’s mountaineering and rescue training program.

“What we try to remind people is that this isn’t just a hobby of the month club,” Leum said. “It’s a life changing and huge commitment club that will affect not just you, but everybody around you.”

Montrose Search and Rescue is one of the most active teams in the state with a wide variety of terrain to cover. On average team members receive approximately 130 calls a year for searches and rescues, typically split evenly between the two. Calls responded to have included vehicles over the side of mountain roads in Angeles National Forest, snow and ice incidents in the winter and hikers in distress.

The team presently consists of 25 members, but a few members have recently relocated or retired, which is why they are looking to repopulate their roster. Leum said that for every 100 people who attend a meeting, only two will take the steps needed to join the team.

“We understand that getting someone as a full team member is going to take a while so that’s why we need to start now,” Leum said. “Despite the demand it entails, the people who do this do it because it really is the most gratifying thing in the world. We get to reunite injured or lost people with their families and that’s what keeps us going.”

To RSVP for the tryouts or seek further information, email