The shrill beeping tone of the pager next to the bed breaks the still of the night. It's 2:00 A.M., and you hear the sound of wind-driven rain against the window. The message from the pager: "Overdue cross-country skiers on Mt. Baldy; local team requesting assistance; winter gear required; expect snow and storm conditions." Some might be tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but for the men and women involved in mountain rescue sleep is no longer an option. Finding the overdue skiers before it's too late is their only concern.

The Team was founded in 1951 by a group of dedicated outdoorsmen from the local community. Whenever there was a call for help to assist someone in the local mountains, whether it be an injured hiker or someone who didn't return home, these individuals were called. These calls for help became frequent enough that they formed an organization - The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team.
Team members undergoing helicopter training.

The Sierra Madre Search & Rescue Team was the first search & rescue team formed in California, but because of demand, other groups soon followed suit and formed other teams. Currently, there are 7 search and rescue teams in Los Angeles County, 6 of which are accredited by the Mountain Rescue Association.

The number of operations that the Sierra Madre Search & Rescue Team responds to in a given year varies significantly, but in a typical year, the majority of the Team's activity takes place in the Chantry Flats area. When the road is open, Chantry Flats is one of the most popular areas in the local mountains because of its stunning beauty and it is so readily accessible. Chantry Flats is also the starting point for numerous trails that can take hikers and backpackers to many beautiful and challenging areas in the Angeles National Forest. While the vast majority of visitors to the National Forest enjoy a safe and relaxing outing, a few people experience more excitement than they bargained for. Incidents range from backpackers with twisted ankles to climbers taking severe falls to hikers who've gotten turned around and lost. But regardless of how minor or serious the situation, the Team will respond to any call for help.

Each year the Team gets called upon by other agencies to assist with search & rescue operations taking place far from Sierra Madre and even LA County. These include searches on Mt. Baldy, Mt. San Jacinto, and Mt. San Gorgonio, as well as searches throughout the Sierras.


The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is a 24 hour-per-day, 365 day-per-year, non-profit, all volunteer organization founded in 1951 to save lives through mountain rescue and outdoor safety education. The Team motto of, "Anywhere in the wilderness that someone needs help....", has guided us through nearly 3,000 requests for help since our founding.

The Team averages about 20 members, many with more than 20 years of experience in wilderness search and rescue. Each member supplies and maintains their own personal equipment required to work in the backcountry in all seasons. All members are trained in mountaineering, search and man-tracking, high-angle rescue, specialized mountain rescue systems, communications, field navigation, technical rock and ice climbing, helitac techniques and survival skills. All members are certified to the level of emergency medical technician (EMT) or higher.

The Team owns several fully equipped vehicles which are ready for immediate response to any location. Vehicle inventories include thousands of feet of rope, radios, litters, medical supplies, climbing hardware, downed aircraft locators, satellite/GPS navigation equipment, and other tools necessary to effectively run mountain search and rescue operations.
Winter search area.

Our primary area of operation is southern California, however the Team responds to calls for help in an area extending from Baja California through the High Sierra and into northern California. With approximately 60 callouts per year, Team members, all of whom are unpaid volunteers, are kept busy.

The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is affiliated with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. as high-risk civilian volunteers and are members of the national Mountain Rescue Association (MRA). The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is financed solely by private contributions and receives no financial support from any tax funds.

Our services are provided at no cost and are available through our 24-hour dispatcher.