SAR Vehicle Must-Haves..


My plans were Skid plates.........
Good skid plates were THE best mod that I ever did to my truck.
Not just to make the truck more bulletproof.
Because of your new peace-of-mind you're not scared of any noises and you and your truck become a way more capable combo.


Expedition Leader
I'm going to be fabricating mine, and my neighbor said that he may try and make me a roof rack looking like the Discovery design.


New member
Here in WA state we can run amber-only lights for use in running escort for search teams, low speed urban searches, or when blocking roads for base camp checkpoints.
Here is a list from KC4X4SAR rules for equipment:

The required equipment identified in this section must be carried on all missions.
Required Vehicle Equipment:
King County detailed road map (Thomas Brothers or equivalent).
First Aid Kit.
Tire chains (for at least two wheels unless prohibited by manufacturer of vehicle).
Fire extinguisher (preferred type la, 10BC 2.5 pound).
Axe or saw.
Bucket (minimum 2.5 gallon).
Shovel (preferred 36”).
Corporate and KCSARA decals on vehicle.
Grid Ribbon and waterproof marking pen.
A minimum of a VHF Hi-Band radio (may be issued or personally owned).
Required Personal Equipment:
Rulers - USGS and Weyerhaeuser.
Food and water to last for expected duration of mission.
Matches or lighter.
Clothing appropriate for the environment expected, to include a safety vest.
Recommended Equipment:
Cooking gear (stove and pot).
Roll Bar (soft top vehicles)
Spare oil.
Jumper cables.
Tow cable, chain or rope.
Spot light (hand held or mounted).
Blanket or sleeping bag.
Maps as listed on the map list.
Tire chains. (In addition to the ones on required list).
Helmet, goggles and hearing protection for helicopter operations.
Items that might be needed for Blood borne pathogens such as:
goggles/safety glasses.
heavy duty rubber gloves.
latex surgical gloves.
mouth to mouth barrier.
antibacterial swabs.
smock or jump suit.
Listing of Maps
This map listing is not a mandatory listing but rather reflects some of the maps you may find useful.
Thomas Brothers map book. (The tri-county, King, Pierce & Snohomish version is preferred however, you can easily get by with only the King County version).
USGS or Forest Service 7.5 minute maps showing all of King County.
Green Trail 15 minute maps for King County.
Maps for bordering counties.
Washington State Atlas and Gazetteer.
Washington State Highway map.
Weyerhaeuser Maps.
Computerized maps, such as DeLorme Street Atlas and/or Topo. (with GPS capability is a plus).
Any other map that you come across that you find useful should be carried by you.
Description of Other Selected Items
Below are some selected items which, as time goes on, you may decide that you want to purchase. You should not think of these items as mandatory or even recommended, rather they are things that some members have chosen to purchase.

NOTE: Please coordinate with a knowledgeable unit member before purchasing any of the following equipment to ensure you obtain equipment which is compatible with our operations, and can be acquired at the best price.
CB Radio. Commonly used for communications with log trucks while searching logging areas.
47 MHz (VHF low band) mobile transceiver. Additional frequencies used by SAR organizations.
2 meter amateur radio. You must be a licensed HAM to transmit on these frequencies however anyone may monitor the frequencies.
150 MHz mobile transceiver. Primary frequencies used by KCSARA units.
Pager. Alphanumeric pagers may be checked out or purchased.
Mobile Scanner. Monitors frequencies not covered by your own transceivers.
Front and/or rear mounted winch.
Light bar, strobe lights or other AMBER (only) warning lights. Used to draw attention to vehicle, provide escort to dog teams, traffic control and to draw lost subject toward the vehicle.
Off road driving lights. Not legal for use on public roads but helpful when searching on logging roads.
Global Positioning System (GPS). Used to identify the exact location of the receiver.
Chain saw. Used to clear downed trees which impede progress of search.
Siren/PA. It is illegal to use the siren on public streets. The PA system may be useful to call to a subject away from your vehicle.


The vehicle totaly depends on wher you are going to use it and for what purpose. In my area it just gets me to the scene. I do have standard off road kit, winch, jack, first aid, mobile radio etc. Our team is a rapid response team, ground pounders in other words. Most of the searches in this area are completed by us. In a few cases we do need to call in other resources. Most of our area is designated wilderness so no vehicles allowed.

Pat Caulfield

New member
Ditto, verdesardog, here we use our vehicles to get to the scene and sometimes a containment road patrol. ATV's are used when the terrain gets rough.

Vehicles are pack horses, so they need to be uncluttered and ready to load people, personal equipment (24 hour packs) and team gear (ropes, hardware, med kits, litters/wheels, etc.).

Racks are a must, sometimes we will load a raft for a quick response (vs. recovery) swiftwater mission on top, a second litter or other "stuff".

We are not permitted to "run lights", only use our ambers when parked or providing road protection. Alley/takedown lights on the bar can provide extra light when needed.

Remote control spots/floods are good, but you don't need to over do the driving lights. Too many lights, especially bouncing (make sure any you do install are solid) around ones can be distracting.

Work lights around the rig are good, again not too bright, we use LED bars attached to the underside of topper doors to create a light island.

Inverters are a must for recharging radio batts. Multiple charges are usually needed to cover radio types (we use VHFs and 800mhz). Although our trucks carry radios, HT are really the rule. Some radios have mobile 12v charges available so only a 12v octopus is needed to hook up a few.

Our truck also has a 120v circuit run into the cab so that someone can be developing the needed mission maps (Terrain NavPro) on a laptop in route and printing as soon as we arrive.

Probably missed a bunch and your experiences will be different, but my two cents.