Search and Rescue

rescue(1).jpgThe Cochise County Search and Rescue (SAR) Posse has been in existence for 32 consecutive years, with March 2014 being the 33rd year. During the past 32 years SAR has accumulated a successful mission success rate, The direct effect has been to render immeasurable comfort to the families of visitors and citizens, due to the safe return of their family members. Numerous of these missions and recoveries pertained to either lost, injured or deceased Undocumented Aliens having fallen victim to the elements. It is the mission of SAR to be highly trained with good equipment utilizing state of the art techniques.

The mission of SAR is also to meet the needs of the community and to fulfill its obligations under Arizona Statute; the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office maintains an on-call Search and Rescue (SAR) Posse. SAR encompasses two equally important sections. Component one consists of five (5) sworn deputies; RSgt David Nolan, RSgt Ursula Ritchie, Deputy Rick Cleveland, Deputy Randy Haws, and Detective John Monroe, who acts as the incident commander (IC) during SAR missions. These deputies have received and maintain specialty training in High Angle Technical Rescue, Helicopter/Air Rescue, ATV Instructor, Canine, Emergency Medical Technicians, and Swift Water Rescue. Due to the high volume of missions during the past year, the coordinators have expended 875 hours.

The most important component of SAR is the volunteer, compromised of a county-wide membership of 50 people of varied backgrounds and experience levels. This is a highly cohesive and cost-effective team. These volunteers not only donated 2718 hours during the past FY 2013-2014, they also donated funds and accepted personal risk to provide Search and Rescue services to the citizens and visitors of Cochise County, and continue to do so. The Cochise County SAR has been recognized by the Arizona SAR Coordinator's Association as the outstanding SAR Unit of the Year, Five members have been honored as Volunteer of the Year.

The SAR Posse has a very close working relationship with the Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue Division. AZ DPS Air Rescue Helicopters are available to assist SAR operations, such as helicopter rappel and short haul. The SAR posse is one of the few counties in Arizona qualified to perform this highly technical and dangerous operation.


The Cochise County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Posse handles unpredictable SAR missions through innovation and risk taking. SAR mission cannot be directly planned for; it depends on visitor / tourism influx and weather conditions. All members of the SAR Posse pay close attention to detail, its members, the subject to be rescued or searched for, yet handle each mission in an aggressive manner to provide stability in action and safety. The SAR Posse is a extremely team oriented driven team.

National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) 

This site provides valuable information for those who are active in the outdoors and explains different aspects of Search and Rescue on a national level.

Staying Safe in the Outdoors:

  • Remember to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Learn how to use a map / compass and GPS, and take them with you.
  • Have something with you to signal for help if you need to such as a mirror, flashlight.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing to you can be seen more easily.
  • Take hard candy or other high energy food as well as a supply of water.
  • Take the medication you are required to take if applicable.
  • Learn how to build a shelter, make a fire without matches, signal for help, search for food, conserve your energy, and keep warm or cool.
  • Never travel alone, it is best to travel in a group of three.
  • While hiking look back periodically to identify landmarks for the return trip.
  • Stay on the trail while hiking
  • Leave your car where is can be located quickly and leave a note on the dash telling a possible rescuer your intended route.
  • Think before acting