Operations

The Wilderness Rescue Team responds¬†to requests for search and rescue services from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine’s Baxter State Park, the Maine Department of Conservation/Bureau of Forestry, and other state and federal park authorities. Service is initiated when a designated representative from one of these agencies contacts the operations officer and issues a request for service. That team officer will then activate a response by calling members from a call list. Members who are available to respond call the operations officer, indicate their response availability, and receive further instructions.

In order to assure that we maintain the highest level of operational proficiency, all team members must maintain expertise in at least one of three operational specialties. These specialties are described below. All team members have a solid foundation for the search specialty and some members are particularly focused either medically or technically. Additionally, all members of WRT are specialized in wilderness SAR; as the name suggests, we operate in a wilderness context. This means we get to see some of the most beautiful areas of Maine while doing our trainings and while responding to callouts, but it also means we get some of the nastiest weather. We do operate and train 24/7, 365. ¬†You can read more about each of our team’s specialties below. For more info on how we train, check out the training page.

Members of WRT practice searching for a victim in a wooded area during the spring in rural Maine.

All team members must maintain expertise in the search tactics and techniques. Members who have completed our basic training requirements are considered to have expertise in the Search Specialty and are responsible for:

  • Participating in search operations
  • Providing support to Technical and Medical Specialists during technical and medical operations
  • Adopting, developing, or modifying search protocols that are used by the team
  • Maintaining search equipment that is owned by the team

Team members practice "pick-offs," a rescue technique used for extracting a single patient from a precarious position.

Team members who have significant skill and experience in technical climbing and rescuing function may serve as Technical Specialist. Technical Specialists complete additional technical training and are responsible for the following activities:

  • Accessing patients who are in locations where technical climbing skills are required to reach them
  • Helping support personnel to reach said patients by establishing fixed ropes and climbing routes
  • Supervising the establishment of any technical rescue systems that may be necessary
  • Adopting, developing or modifying technical climbing and rescuing protocols that are used by the team
  • Supervising the maintenance of all technical equipment that is owned by the team
  • Providing technical climbing and rescuing training to non-technical team members

Members of WRT participate in a carryout on Mount Katahdin. WRT medical specialists worked with BSP rangers to provide the best possible treatment for the treatment for this patient.

Team members licensed at the Wilderness First Responder level or above may function as Medical Specialists. Medical Specialists are responsible for the following activities:

  • Providing primary medical care whenever required during search and rescue operations
  • Adopting, developing, or modifying all medical protocols that are used by the team
  • Supervising the maintenance of all medical equipment that is owned by the team