Rescue team searching with volunteers.

With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Friday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in January 2019.

Editor’s note: This is a guest article from Graham Shea.

This is the time of year when people are making goals towards their personal development. Yet the paradoxical thing about seeking to improve one’s self, is that it’s best accomplished by looking outside of it.

A couple years ago I stumbled across an ad in the paper which said that my local search and rescue team was recruiting volunteers. SAR teams are called upon to help people who are in potential distress or imminent danger, often going “off road” to look for those who are missing or feared lost because of accident, foul play, mental health, or natural disasters.

While I had concerns about whether I had the skills, time, and disposition to serve my community in this kind of role, I signed up anyway.

After undergoing some classroom training and taking the state oath of office, I was issued a pager, a radio, and a very orange shirt, and immediately started going out on calls. Very quickly, I began to see that by seeking to help others, I was sharpening myself, and that volunteering for search and rescue brings many benefits to one’s life.

The Benefits of Joining a Search and Rescue Team

Rescue Team searching with helicopter.
1. The Chance to Scratch a Deep Itch

Search and rescue teams have been around since the dawn of human existence. The need to find and save comrades is a primal, deeply-set drive. Maybe you’ve felt the hunger to find yourself in a real emergency that calls on everything you’ve got for the sake of a cause bigger than yourself. Maybe you’ve secretly fantasized about rescuing someone in distress, and find your adrenaline pumping at the thought, but it feels like a distant, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Though it may seem like all danger has retreated from the world, and there are no longer opportunities to scratch this itch for aiding those in the thick of it, the need for this service in fact remains very significant. There are opportunities to function in this capacity as part of a SAR operation every week in your community.

2. Motivation to Stay Skilled and in Shape

When it comes to the development of our skills and fitness, we typically rely on self-imposed challenges to stay motivated. But we frequently find that we still yearn not only to possess such capacities for personal pleasure, but to test and utilize them in the real world. When we know that our mental and