What is SARTI?

We are a professional volunteer search and rescue group who specializes in man tracking and tracking resource management to assist local responsible agents in the search for lost or missing persons. Our members are trained and certified by the state to standards specifically created for search and rescue tracking and lost or missing person incidents.

Questions about Tracking Certification

The three levels are Operational Tracker, Tracking Technician and Tracking Specialist. Operational Tracker is the level easiest to achieve for trackers who are just beginning and it may take years to move up to Technician level. Tracking Specialist requires many years of dedicated practice and nearly perfect scores on the written and field evaluations.

Achieving certification requires completion of a written test and 7 field stations. There are minimum scores on the station components. For each certification level there are also pre-requisites that pertain to general SAR experience (i.e. VDEM Search Team Member certification). The pre-requisites are listed on the Tracking Certification Levels page.

The entire certification process takes time – including lots of “dirt-time” (practice). In the meantime, applicants to SARTI serve a probationary period. Once applicants successfully get voted on as members of the group they become SARTI Trainees. SARTI Trainees are only allowed to respond to searches if they are supervised by a fully certified VDEM Tracker (see levels above).

Questions about Incident Response

We can respond anywhere requested. Having active members throughout the state we are unique in that we can provide trained and knowledgeable tracking resources within a very short order. As we are a volunteer organization, mission response depends upon member availability.

Absolutely nothing. All costs for our operations are funded by the group’s fundraising efforts and the individuals involved. For missions over twenty-four hours in length, food, water and a place to sleep are useful, but not required. We come personally equipped with food, water and shelter for 48 to 72 hours.

The Search and Rescue Tracking Institute has a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). As such, the Commonwealth of Virginia provides us liability coverage for injuries and worker’s compensation to our members provided we are requested through VDEM. This is assured by the issue of a mission number given by VDEM.

Once called by VDEM, we can have resources anywhere in Virginia in the amount of time it takes to drive to where we are requested.

We work for the agency having jurisdiction (AHJ) that calls us. We can manage the tracking resource portion of entire search mission for the AHJ or provide tracking resources or teams depending on your needs. SARTI prides itself on being able to work well with others, whether that is law enforcement, other search and rescue groups, fire/rescue or local volunteer resources.

If you are reporting someone missing: Call 911 immediately!

If you are part of a law enforcement, fire, or rescue agency: Call the VDEM Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 1-800-468-8892. Tell the communications officer that you have a search and rescue emergency, or that you would like assistance with a cold case. They in turn will walk you through what you need for your mission, what resources are available to you and then they will call out the resources you request. This system was created with you the AHJ in mind. If you need tracking resources you will need to request tracking resources.

Other than direction and input from the AHJ we are self-sufficient with regards to the actual mission. Our trained management personnel as well as qualified tracking resources including SAR Field Team Members, Field Team Leaders and Field Team Signcutting personnel are there to work for you. We carry our own personal gear, which enables us to sustain ourselves for extended periods of time in the harshest environments under all weather conditions. Many members are medically trained to handle most medical emergencies at base or in the field, not to mention when we find the subject.