Introduction to SAR

The Introduction to Search and Rescue (ISAR)/SARTECH III course is designed to provide knowledge concerning the general responsibilities, skills, abilities, and the equipment needed by persons who would be participating in a search or rescue mission. The course is based around rural and wilderness environments but the material is recommended as a base of knowledge for all SAR environments.
ISAR/SARTECH III is the first course in a stepping stone approach to higher level NASAR courses of training for emergency personnel. It provides a common starting point in training for the new person to SAR and in many cases, an excellent refresher course for the more experience SAR worker. This common starting point provides continuity during SAR operations and future training of all team members.
The recommended number of hours for the course is (16) sixteen. ISAR is also designed to prepare the student for SARTECH III certification, according to the knowledge objectives defined in the NASAR Certification Criteria for SARTECH III.
The 75 question, multiple choice SARTECH III exam is taken at the end of the ISAR course.
The SARTECH III exam is the only exam that we offer on line as it is the only one that does not require skills testing.

The textbook that prepares a student to take the SARTECH III  exam is entitled Introduction to Search and Rescue. The ISAR book may be purchased through the on line bookstore on the NASAR website.

Who Should Attend

  • Persons who are interested in becoming involved or have just become involved with search and rescue operations.
  • SAR personnel who would like to maintain or refresh their knowledge of search and rescue.
  • Emergency response personnel who belong to organizations who provide resources and assistance during search and rescue missions.
  • Managers of emergency response organizations who want to understand the state-of-the-art skills and knowledge needed by the SAR workers.
  • Community members and groups (scouts, hunters, hikers, etc.) that have an interest in safety and preventative SAR operations

There are no prerequisites to the ISAR/SARTECH III course.

The ISAR/SARTECH III course is not required prior to taking the SARTECH III exam in person or on line.
While recommended, the ISAR/SARTECH III course is also not required prior to taking the Fundamentals of Search and Rescue course or the SARTECH II certification exam.


  • SAR: What is it and how do you fit in?
  • Components of SAR
  • SAR Management System
  • Land Navigation and Orienteering
  • SAR Resources
  • Search Philosophy and Probability Theory
  • Search Tactics
  • Clue Consciousness
  • Search Operations
  • Lost Person Behavior
  • Helicopter Operations in SAR Communications

After Completion
Upon successful completion of the ISAR/SARTECH III course the student shall have the knowledge to:

  • Define the components of SAR operations
  • List the major responsibilities for search and rescue
  • Describe the components of ICS and their functions
  • List and differentiate between at least three types of maps used in SAR
  • Identify, define and demonstrate the use of topographical maps
  • Define the plotting methods or grid systems and demonstrate the ability to use them to determine the coordinates for a given point
  • Describe the parts of the compass and demonstrate the ability to use it
  • Describe the navigational functions used in map and compass
  • Define SAR resources
  • Define the six crucials in SAR management
  • Differentiate between the two basic categories of search tactics (Passive and Active)
  • Describe the primary types of active search tactics
  • Describe the techniques and methods used by searchers
  • List at least five of the searching or tactical skills needed by field searchers
  • Explain why SAR personnel search for clues not subjects
  • List the information needed by the searcher when alerted
  • Define the functions of the search crew positions
  • Explain why knowledge of lost person behavior can be an advantage to the searcher
  • List at least ten of the safety rules for personnel during helicopter operations
  • List at least five common radio procedures and guidelines