***2023 Recruiting – Now Accepting Applications***
WINSAR accepts applications throughout the year to support our role as Ground Search and Rescue providers. We are also looking for volunteers with specific skills: GIS (Ozi Explorer – mapping) and Communications (radio/other comms tools), fund raising, updating our websites (WordPress) and other support roles.
Applications for new members are accepted year-round by contacting us from the “Contact” page and requesting an application form be emailed to you. After review of the application, applicants may be invited to an intake orientation. The orientation is followed by a recruitment hike to to assess the ability to function as a SAR provider and short instructional periods on various topics to assess the ability to learn new related SAR skills and perform in a team setting. Selected applicants are then offered conditional membership as Members in Training (MITs) and are required to complete a number of on-line courses, our in-house Ground Search and Rescue course and attend regular training before applying for Active Member status.
Minimum Basic Requirements
The minimum basic requirements to join Winnipeg Search and Rescue are:
- 19 Years of Age
- Physically Fit
- Valid First Aid Certificate (Minimum Standard First Aid/Level C CPR)
- Valid Class 5 Driver’s License
- Ability to Travel Safely in All Weather
- Have or willing to learn Basic Outdoors and Survival Skills
- Have or willing to gain knowledge and experience in Local/Regional Areas, Parks and Trails.
- Personal Survival Equipment (Minimum 24 Hour Survival Pack) and Basic Outdoor Gear to be obtained within five months of enrollment.
- Home/Employment Situation That Allows for good potential to respond to Call-Outs 24/7/365
- A Commitment to a Minimum 2 Years Service
- Dedicated to helping people in distress
- Ability to Complete All Required Training
- Willing to attend regular and scheduled training as well as meetings.
- We are fortunate that searches are not a frequent occurrence in Manitoba. Our volunteers need to be internally motivated and find enjoyment in the training and team work experiences gained from WINSAR membership.
- A search is an emergency and can happen at any time. Our volunteers need to be ready to be deployed into the field at a moment’s notice. We understand that no one can be available at all times, but do stress that members must make every effort to assist for searches and other events WINSAR supports. This committment will be discussed during the orientation sessions.
In addition to the above minimum requirements, WINSAR looks for individuals who possess skills that can help the association remain strong. WINSAR members serve not only as searchers but also as representatives of a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers.
- Minimum of Standard First Aid Certification
- Pleasure Craft Operator Certification
- Experienced Radio Operators
- Experienced Skiers, Rock/Mountain Climbers, Snowshoers and Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Individuals with Accounting and Financial Expertise
- Individuals with Administrative/Office Skills/Webpage/WordPress experience
- Individuals with Supervisory and Leadership Skills
- Individuals with Public Relations and Advertising Experience
- Individuals with Teaching, Training and Education Experience (All Ages)
- Individuals with a strong in interest in volunteering
Answering the Call
Search and Rescue volunteers play an important role in helping individuals, families and communities, often during difficult and sensitive situations. Those considering membership in WINSAR must be:
- Safety Conscious
- Able to deal with Difficult Situations
Apply Now: Please go to our contact list and email us to start the process!
WINSAR thanks all applicants for taking the time to inform us of their interest however only those selected for an intake interview will be contacted.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often are the searches and when do they happen?
Manitoba averages about 18-20 searches each year. They can happen at any time of day or night. WINSAR can be called to search within the City of Winnipeg or to assist areas surrounding the City.
What kind of searches do we do?
Our primary tasking is for missing person searches, but we may also be tasked to assist with evidence searches. We are a ground search team – we do not do airborne and have very limited water based search capabilities.
How long will a search last for?
Searches can often last for some time, even stretching into several days on occasion.=, however the vast majority are completed within 12 hours. They are split into shifts called “operational periods”, usually about 8 hours each.
What if I’m unable to make a search when called out?
If you are unable to make it for a search that’s no problem, as volunteers we all have personal lives as well. But all efforts should be made to attend searches and training meeting and exercises. If you are frequently unable to attend SAR events and meeting, we may revisit your suitability for WINSAR.
How do we know when there is a search?
WINSAR uses a call out system that notifies and tracks responses from our members. This system uses text messages, emails, cell phones and land lines to notify our members of a Call Out.
What’s the coverage area for call outs?
We typically assist with any searches within 200 kilometers of the City of Winnipeg, although we may be asked to consider assisting in searches further away. The vast majority of our searches are in Winnipeg or within the Winnipeg Capitol Region.
Do I have to carry my gear with me?
It is expected that within approximately 45 minutes you would be en route to the search destination with your gear. Your gear should be packed and ready to deploy at all times but for security reasons we don’t expect members to have equipment in their vehicles at all times.
How much does it cost to join?
There is no fee to join, but there is a $25.00 annual due to cover administrative expenses for the group. The cost of obtaining and maintaining your gear and uniform is up to each individual member of WINSAR. WINSAR is almost completely self funded other than insurance which is covered by the Province of Manitoba and the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada. Because we have no outside funding, there is an expectation for WINSAR members to volunteer at our fund raising events held throughout the year.
Do I need to buy any equipment?
You must provide your own basic survival equipment and uniforms that meet WINSAR requirements. You will be provided a list of items you will need for your 24 hour pack. If you are a hiker or outdoors person you may have a good part of the required equipment already. WINSAR members can expect to invest a few hundred dollars for personal equipment and uniforms. These requirements will be discussed during orientation sessions.
How much time will I have to put in?
The single biggest reason people leave any volunteer organization is because they cannot keep up the commitment required. It is vital you understand there is a commitment of time and effort when you join WINSAR. Many members log many hours each year while those that do not meet minimum attendance requirements are requested to become more involved or asked to leave as our roster is made up of only active members.
Do I need to have a vehicle?
While you do not need a vehicle to attend searches/training exercises because carpooling can be arranged, emergency call outs having access to a vehicle will make it much easier to respond.
Do I need to have internet access?
Yes. A very large part of our communications is done by email and on our website.
How fit do I need to be?
Search and Rescue is physically demanding. You will often be required to search in arduous terrain while carrying a heavy pack. If you get out of breath walking up a few flights of stairs at work then this is definitely not going to be much fun for you! We don’t do any kind of fitness testing or training – it’s up to you to keep in reasonably good condition.
Do we get paid or reimbursed?
There are no paid positions in WINSAR. For actual searches for our tasking agencies we may be reimbursed for travel expenses to and from the search site.
Are we insured for injury?
Yes. Search and Rescue Manitoba (SARMAN) has insurance coverage tailored specifically for ground SAR teams in Canada. Make sure you sign in when attending official activities to ensure you are covered.
I need volunteer experience for my chosen career; can I join WINSAR to get this?
Let’s be absolutely clear on this. SAR teams are all run by volunteers, and recruiting takes up a huge amount of our resources. We respectfully ask that you Do NOT waste our time by joining just to get our name on your resume. Do NOT take up a valuable spot on our recruit course unless you know in your heart you will return the investment of time and effort we put into you. If you join us you are committing to all the responsibilities of being a member. Having said this, multiple members have used their volunteer time with WINSAR to assist with securing employment.
My dog is an excellent tracker – can I do K9 SAR with her?
WINSAR does work with civilian K9 teams. K9 teams must be fully active members of WINSAR, maintain all local, provincial and national standards for both SAR and K9 operations. K9 handlers are SAR providers first with K9 as a secondary function. If you are interested in becoming a K9 handler for SAR you will be asked to volunteer with SAR before we support your move to K9 operations.
What do I need to bring to my Interview?
For the interview, please complete and bring the recruitment package:
Application Form (will be emailed on request)
Criminal Record Search/Child Abuse Registry Check (applicant responsible for costs). If you do not have these available, you will be given a limited time window to obtain both as part of the recruiting process.
Photocopy of Photo ID : i.e. your driver’s license.
Photocopy of your current First Aid/CPR Certificate
If you are not accepted to WINSAR, we will destroy your information. If you are accepted then these items forms the start of your personnel file.
I live outside of Winnipeg, is that a problem?
Some of our current members live nearby, but outside of Winnipeg. As long as you are okay with the many events you will need to come into Winnipeg for, then there is no problem. The vast majority of all our meetings, training and special events are in Winnipeg- many of these are at our base. Your response time to searches is also something to think about.
If you live further away, you may be better served to join a team closer to you. Contact us and we will discuss with WINSAR or a rural GSAR Team in your area will be the better option. WINSAR no longer supports membership with more than one GSAR Team.
My first aid certificate has expired – when must I have it renewed by?
In general we prefer you to bring a copy of your current certificate to your interview. However you only actually need to have it prior to completing Search and Rescue – Basic and to remain current in order to be called out on a search. You can still participate in training with our local group. If your certificate is currently expired please book a standard (16 hour) first aid course immediately through a provider.
Which type of first aid certificate is it that I need?
At minimum you need Standard First Aid/CPR Level C, which is a 16 hour course that covers adult, infant and child CPR, and it must have been provided through a facility accredited by Workplace Safety and Health Manitoba. If you’ve lost your certificate, please contact your training provider who may be able to replace it.