Link to: Special Statement on Mountain Rescue Operations
- Is PMR a government organization?
- Does PMR charge for search and rescue missions?
- Who pays for search and rescue missions?
- In what types of missions does PMR participate?
- What areas does PMR cover?
- How is PMR mobilized?
- Who else do you work with on the mountain?
- When are helicopters called in for a rescue mission?
- Are mountain climbers required to be licensed or insured?
- Who enforces the rules and regulations on Mount Hood?
- Does PMR guide climbers or provide route information?
- What does PMR do besides rescuing people?
- How many members are in PMR?
- Do PMR members have “real” jobs?
- Is PMR “hiring”?
- How do I become a mountain rescuer?
- If mountaineering is dangerous, why do people do it?
- Why do you go after these “morons”?
- May I get a patch or other insignia for my collection?
- May I use photos, graphics or text from your website?
- May I link to your website
- What kind of equipment and training do I need to mountaineer?
- Where can I learn more about climbing Mount Hood?
- How can I donate to PMR?
- Who can I contact for more information?
Is PMR a government organization?
No. Portland Mountain Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all volunteer organization. We receive no direct funding from government agencies.
Does PMR charge for search and rescue missions?
No. As a non-profit, all volunteer organization, PMR does not charge for its services.
Who pays for search and rescue missions?
Many search and rescue groups participating in the missions, including PMR, are volunteer and self-funded, so they do not charge for their services. In most cases, only government agencies and contracted participants, such as the attending Sheriff’s Office or an ambulance company, contribute to taxpayer costs. The charges involved are actually quite similar to search and rescue activities conducted away from the mountains.
It is important to note that the costs can be theoretically higher if victims are charged for their rescue. The Mountain Rescue Association has developed a position statement against charging for rescues. Click here to view the statement on the MRA website.
In what types of missions does PMR participate?
Generally, Portland Mountain Rescue is mobilized for SAR missions on high angle rock and snow and hazardous terrain – often in inclement weather. For more information, please see our What Is PMR? section.
Our Unit responds to missions for much of the popular climbing areas on Oregon’s Mount Hood. We are also called out to help on other Oregon and Washington mountains, such as Mount Adams, Broken Top, the Coast Range and the Three Sisters. Out Unit also responds to technical high angle SAR missions and, occasionally, to less technical SAR missions away from mountainous areas. For more information, please see our What Is PMR? section.
PMR is called out by the Sheriff’s Office in the County where the rescue is taking place. Individuals requiring rescue should call 911. The 911 dispatcher will route the call to the local Sheriff who will mobilize the appropriate SAR units. For more information, please see our What Is PMR? section.
Who else do you work with on the mountain?
Depending on the type of rescue, PMR may be the only rescue unit in the field or we may partner with many other SAR groups. We always work with the Sheriff’s Office in the particular County where the rescue is taking place, but certain missions may involve one or more of the following groups:
· MRA units (e.g. Corvallis, Eugene, etc.)
· Field paramedics (e.g. American Medical Response)
· Pro and/or Volunteer Ski Patrol units
· Military groups (e.g. 1042nd Nat’l Guard, 939th Air Wing)
· Low elevation SAR units (e.g. PNW SAR, Mountain Wave)
· Sheriff’s Office Search Groups (e.g. Explorer Posts)
When are helicopters called in for a rescue mission?
Though helicopters (military, civilian or otherwise) may be used when patients are critically injured, the decision to use them is not up to PMR. Our on-scene rescuers may suggest that a patient needs air evacuation, but the ultimate decision rests with Oregon Emergency Management, the attending Sheriff’s Office SAR Coordinator, as well as the administrating body for the helicopter unit.
Using helicopters in mountainous terrain is inherently risky, so they are only dispatched in true life-and-death situations. Since weather and other conditions can prevent helicopters from participating in rescue missions, air evacuations are not always possible. In these situations, ground-based rescuers, such as PMR, may be the only resources able to conduct the rescue mission.
Are mountain climbers required to be licensed or insured?
Climbers in the Pacific Northwest are not required to be licensed or insured before they climb. However, on Mount Hood, they must complete a USDA Forest Service Wilderness Permit and carry a copy with them on their trek. Along with this permit, climbers are requested – and strongly encouraged – to complete a climbers’ registration form, providing essential information about the party if rescue is needed. Other Pacific Northwest mountains have different registration methods, but most require a permit of some type.
Who enforces the rules and regulations on Mount Hood?
There are several government organizations that have jurisdiction on Mount Hood. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (South & West sides) and Hood River Sheriff’s Office (North & East sides) are the state law enforcement agencies for their respective portions of the mountain. The USDA Forest Service creates the rules and regulations for the entire mountain, as the mountain is part of the Mount Hood National Forest.
PMR does not create or enforce rules and regulations. Our role is to provide SAR services, to the extent we have available volunteer members, when the appropriate government authorities request our help. PMR does assist the USDA Forest Service in educating climbers about Leave No Trace and other wilderness issues, as well as informing unprepared or inexperienced climbers how to seek professional instruction on safe climbing techniques.
Does PMR guide climbers or provide route information?
PMR is not a guiding service and we do not generally provide route
information for Pacific Northwest climbers. However, we do patrol the
popular climbing routes on Mount Hood during climbing season, providing safety
education to climbers. This “preventative SAR” activity can include the
distribution of general route condition information and the discussion of
possible risks on the mountain that day.
What does PMR do besides rescuing people?
PMR’s mission is “Savings lives through rescue and education,” so public education is a very important function of our Unit. Examples of our activities include informational lectures and slide shows on avalanche, backcountry and mountain safety. For more information, please see our What Is PMR? section.
While our membership numbers can vary from time to time, PMR usually has about 100 volunteers. About two-thirds of these members are considered “field deployable” and can enter the field on search and rescue missions. The remaining membership contributes to the support and administrative functions of the organization.
Do PMR members have “real” jobs?
Yes, most of our members work regular jobs like everyone else. We have a very diverse group of volunteers,including business people, firefighters, health care workers, teachers, mountaineering guides and even one U.S.National Park Service Ranger. The common threads between our team is our deep love for the outdoors and mountaineering, as well our desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
No, we do not hire our rescuers. PMR is a completely volunteer organization and none of our members are reimbursed for their services. We admit new volunteers and conduct a two-year “training academy” for field deployable personnel. Please see our How to Get Involved and Application Process sections for more information.
How do I become a mountain rescuer?
Though we are a volunteer organization, not every Trainee Applicant is qualified for membership in PMR. Mountain rescuers require technical mountaineering skills, great stamina and calmness under pressure, among other qualities. They also must own their own climbing gear, as PMR does not provide this basic equipment. For the full details on membership requirements, please see the How to Get Involved section of this website.
If mountaineering is dangerous, why do people do it?
Comments such as these are very subjective and are up to the individual person. In mountaineering, what is dangerous to one person may be relatively safe for another person with the proper training and knowledge. PMR does not place judgment on the mountaineering community, but we stand ready to help if accidents happen – regardless of how they may have occurred.
Why do you go after these “morons”?
This is something we are frequently asked – in this rather judgmental manner. The fact of the matter is that many of the people we rescue are generally good people who simply made a mistake. If you ask most active outdoor enthusiasts, they can probably list one or two incidents where they made a mistake, were lucky, and learned from their experience. For those who make an error and are not so lucky, PMR is there to help.
This being said, we are occasionally requested to rescue individuals who repeatedly display poor judgment and get themselves into difficult situations in mountainous terrain. Even for these people, PMR stands ready to help.
In all cases, the Rescue Leader on the scene must determine if the mission can be conducted without risking harm to the rescuers themselves.
May I get a patch or other insignia for my collection?
The PMR and MRA logos are trademarks and are not sold or distributed to the general public.
May I use photos, graphics or text from your website?
Requests such as these are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Webmaster outlining your request and you will be contacted as soon as possible. If permission is granted, all reproductions of media from the PMR website must be credited to “Portland Mountain Rescue”. Please note that our PMR logo is a
Servicemark of our organization and unauthorized use of this logo will meet a vigorous legal challenge.
Generally, all websites interested in PMR’s search and rescue functions may feel free to link to our site. However, if a commercial or non-reputable website is found using a link to our site in an inappropriate manner, PMR reserves the right to have that link removed from the website in question. Please contact the Webmaster for more information.
What kind of equipment and training do I need to mountaineer?
Since PMR does not teach climbing, we council nascent mountaineers to enroll in basic mountaineering courses through local climbing clubs or other reputable organizations. In the Portland area, groups that teach mountaineering include: The Mazamas climbing club, Timberline Mountain Guides and Portland Parks and Recreation.
I’m planning a climbing trip to Mount Hood. Where can I learn more about the mountain?
There are many resources for learning more about mountaineering on Mount Hood or the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. One site of note is the USDA Forest Service’s web page on Climbing Mount Hood. For other interesting websites, please see our Links section.
As a non-profit organization, we welcome tax deductible donations from the general public. For information on helping toward our mission, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please see the How To Contribute page on this website.
I have a question that wasn’t answered here. Who can I contact for more information?
Please send an e-mail to Info@pmru.org.