The Paradigm Shift in Search and Rescue Response During the COVID-19 Pandemic in California

Christopher S. Young Contra Costa County Sheriff’ SAR Team Chairman Bay Area Search and Rescue Council (BASARC)



On March 4, a State of Emergency was declared followed on March 19, when the Governor of California issued mandatory stay-at-home orders. Prior to the state mandate on March 16, the San Francisco Bay Area counties issued their own more stringent orders to shelter in place and shut down many businesses. However, the orders exempted essential services including search and rescue. The dilemma…how to provide search and rescue services to the communities we serve and still protect the mostly volunteer search and rescue personnel? This paper discusses how one search and rescue team along with the search and rescue community of the San Francisco Bay area responded to the new paradigm shift, the challenges and changes implemented to respond to a missing person incident, the results of a survey to determine how teams had modified response, and an example of response guidelines during COVID-19.

KEY WORDS: COVID-19, Shelter in Place, Social Distancing, PPE

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