Northstar Search and Rescue was founded in 1989 by a small group of dedicated individuals from the local community who were wilderness savvy and had trained search dogs. These individuals were called, whenever law enforcement needed assistance in locating someone missing, whether it be an injured hiker, or someone who didn’t return home. These call-outs increased in frequency throughout the years and Northstar SAR’s reputation for being a qualified search organization grew.


Northstar Search & Rescue was one of the first search & rescue teams formed in Minnesota, but because of demand, other groups soon followed suit and formed other teams. Currently, there are 5 search and rescue teams in Minnesota. Northstar SAR is the largest search and rescue unit, and is also licensed by the state as a medical response unit.

The number of operations that the Northstar Search & Rescue responds to in a given year varies, but in a typical year, the majority of the Unit’s activity takes place within a 150 mile radius of the Twin Cities area. Visitors exploring Minnesota explodes in the summer, but there is also a huge draw in the winter months. Minnesota is known for its vast park systems, numerous lakes, and bike trails that can take hikers and backpackers to so many of the beautiful and challenging areas throughout the state. While the vast majority of visitors head to the state parks 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, Northstar Search and Rescue will respond to any call by law enforcement agencies for assistance.

Each year other agencies request assistance by Northstar with search & rescue operations taking place far from our home base located in the Minneapolis Minnesota. These include searches on the Chisholm Trail, Boundary Waters near the Canadian border in NE Minnesota, and water recoveries on many of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, as well as searches throughout the state.


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Northstar Search and Rescue (SAR) is a 24 hour-per-day, 365 day-per-year, non-profit, all volunteer organization founded in 1989. The purpose of this SAR organization is to save lives and provide communities outdoor safety education. Since our inception we have had hundreds of requests for our services.

Our Unit averages about a dozen members, some having more than a decade worth 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 wilderness search man-tracking, communications, field navigation, water search strategies, and survival skills. All of our members hold their Basic CPR certification, or are First Responders and most of our team members are certified to the level of emergency medical technician (EMT).

Northstar SAR has a fully equipped mobile command unit, which is ready for immediate response to any location. This vehicle is integrated with full computer networking capabilities and a communications area. Ultimately, giving us the ability to strategically plan a search while in route or on scene, keep track of all resources being utilized and where deployed, keep searchers safe by passing on current weather reports through NOAA, and monitor the full search in real time. Equipment setup has external antennas to increase range of radios and wireless communications. We added a generator as an external power supply. These modifications allow the vehicle to function as a communications relay, remote site station, field rehab, or an EMS triage unit.



Our primary area of operation is Minnesota, however we respond to calls for missing people extending into the five state area and further if needed. With approximately 60 call-outs per year, members, all of whom are unpaid volunteers, are kept busy.

As a non-profit Northstar Search and Rescue is financed solely by private contributions and receives no financial support from the government.

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