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Myths, Falsehoods, & FAQs

-Do you have to wait 24 hours before you can report someone as a missing person?

NO. There is no time limit or requirement. This is a TV myth. The very moment someone is not where they should be and their circumstances or welfare is unknown, they can be reported missing to law enforcement. Law enforcement is then required to properly and thoroughly investigate the report and based off of that information and criteria, they are then to follow a set standard to facilitate and coordinate official search efforts and/or continue to investigate.

To be clear, there is absolutely NO TIME REQUIREMENT to report someone as missing.

-If I call for help and a search team comes to find me and evacuate me, do I get a bill?

NO. There is no charge for search and rescue! We do not charge, EVER!

The exception here is that if a person is located and evacuated to an ambulance or helicopter, they will be billed for the ambulance or helicopter and any medical care received. That is from the EMS service, NOT from the SAR team.

-If I am out doing something unlawful or illegal or in violation of a municipal or county ordinance, state or federal law, and require a SAR team to come and help me out of my predicament (vehicle stuck, injured, intoxicated, etc) can I get in trouble?

YES. No matter the situation. If it warrants a search and/or a rescue and a SAR team has to deploy to evacuate you to safety and at the conclusion of the event law enforcement discovers that a criminal act or other violation has been committed, attempted, or taken place, then YES, law enforcement can and may take enforcement action upon that, whether a citation/fine or arrest. This is a separate issue from the SAR action and entirely up to the discretion of law enforcement agencies.

The same applies to having to have a vehicle towed/recovered (tow bill) and/or land reclamation done (public lands), or fence repairs (private / public) property, etc.


 -If I call 911 and need help off of a hiking trail as I am tired and cannot continue on or run out of fuel or water,

will a SAR team be sent to help me?

MAYBE. This depends on several factors. Firstly, are you in danger? Are you unable to safely rectify this on your own? 

Secondly, there is no mandatory requirement for public safety to be sent to help on these types of situations but often times they will so as to avert a worse scenario and as a community caretaking effort. It may not be responded to immediately if there are other priority events like fires, crimes, car crashes, but there is always a response system in place to help anyone. It is always best to prepare and plan ahead for these scenarios to avoid needing such help like this. The response also depends on the weather and other safety factors. All are weighed and utilized to determine the type of response. 

We will continue to build on this in time as to help guide and inform people. None of the above is to be taken as legal advice. It is guidance. Each situation is looked at on the merits of the incident.


Have a question or need guidance?

Have a question about something, let us know!

We will be happy to help and if needed, get you in touch with the proper authorities.

NOTE: If there is anyone in danger or a life-threatening situation is at hand, please dial 9-1-1!


Simply email it to us at: 

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