To be a fully accredited member of the Mountain Rescue Association a search and rescue team must pass a test in each of three disciplines: Technical rope rescue, snow and ice rescue, and wilderness search and tracking management that includes an ELT search. To maintain accreditation, each team must pass a re-accreditation test every five years. The California Region of the MRA has chosen to follow a re-accreditation cycle of every three years, so each year California teams test in one of the three disciplines. This year was technical rope rescue, and it was hosted by Sierra Madre Search and Rescue in Joshua Tree National Park. Next year it will be snow and ice, and Inyo County SAR is hosting.
In San Bernardino County there are two fully-accredited SAR teams: West Valley SAR and the Cave Rescue Team. There are two associate member teams who are progressing toward full accreditation. Wrightwood SAR has completed the search and tracking accreditation, and San Bernardino Mountain is preparing for their technical rope rescue accreditation.
My team improved dramatically during our quest toward full MRA accreditation. We firmed up our leadership, honed a few new skills, and became a more effective resource for our region. I highly recommend accepting the challenge. It will be difficult, and time consuming, but you will be better for it. Broadening your SAR involvement with teams throughout the state and country is an inspiring endeavor. You learn that many teams struggle with the same issues, and may have helpful solutions. It is an extrememly helpful network. Also, if you think you are too small, keep in mind that we did it with a roster smaller than 15.