Background on WESARIn February 1968, three ESAR Units, plus a Representative of Western Region of the Boy Scouts of America meet to discuss the forming of a committee for Search and Rescue. The group met every month to form the Advisory Committee. Jack Greer, Kittitas County ESAR was appointed as temporary Chairman of the Advisory Committee. In May 1968, Bill Pitts, King County ESAR was voted to be the first Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Explorer Search and Rescue Program of Western Region, BSA. Bill Pitts was also one of the founders of King County ESAR, along with Max Eckenburg and Don Wilson. Don Wilson was also a member of the Western Region Executive Board and was WESAR voice to have a National ESAR organization established
.The original founding ESAR Units of WESAR was King County, Kittitas County and Pierce County. From 1968 until 1975, WESAR grew to 12 Units in Washington. The Units could either be one Explorer Post, or a Unit could be made up of individual members of the BSA or a number of Explorer Posts in One County. . They could join as long was they had membership in BSA. Presently, we have only 8 ESAR Units active in WESAR at this time. It was decided in the beginning that an ESAR Unit would be by County, not by Council. Some BSA Councils covered many counties and therefore it was not within State Law (RCW 38.52) for Units to be in more than One County. There are a number of BSA Councils that have more than one ESAR Unit.
In April 1972, young women were given the opportunity to participate in training and in missions. For a number of years they were only used as Commissary or other facets that did not involve them on search and rescue missions in the field. They were now able to take the Training with the young men and work in the field the same as any Brushmonkey. They have become a vital part of the WESAR program. They have taken on many Leadership roles and the decision to include them in the program as full members has been more than worthwhile.
In the mid 1970’s, we discussed with the State of Washington, Search and Rescue Coordinator and Sheriffs Association of Washington as to how WESAR would be covered in State Law since we were not a formal organization. Based on the fact that WESAR, nor Search and Rescue Explorer Posts had been accepted as a National Program by the National Council, BSA. It was decided that WESAR should incorporate as a private organization. In November 1979, paperwork was filed to incorporate in the State of Washington as a Non-Profit organization. Shortly afterwards, filed with the IRS as a Non-profit organization and was approved in 1985.
There was some discussion as to how WESAR, now as a private organization, would coordinate with Scouting. One of the purposes of WESAR was to encourage new ESAR Units in Councils wishing to begin a Unit. Support the present Membership Units in their activities, combine efforts to raise funds to support purchase of wholesale items to be purchased by member Units. To certify present Units on a regular basis and provide a Certification Team for New Units to qualify for membership. All of the ESAR Units of WESAR require that the membership must be members of BSA. This continues to give us a platform to develop new ESAR Units and continue our contacts with ESAR Unit throughout the United States.
Additionally, WESAR was formed to help in the Coordination, Cooperation and Communication with each other and Search and Rescue Units in the Washington. Many of the ESAR Unit’s found that they were involved on the same Missions, did not Train the same way, all used a little different methods and in general did not know each other. This became a point noted by Law Enforcement and by forming WESAR; we now were able to develop our own Basic Search and Rescue Manual. That first manual was developed and printed in 1975. Since that time we have had revisions in 1988, and it has been printed 6 times since then. We are in the process of reviewing the Manual and adding additional topics that are used in the SAR field as of the date.
It has taken dedication, time and fortune by many individuals and ESAR Units to keep the original organization as viable as it was when originally formed. The founders are still proud of the actions of all WESAR Units and how they have continued to move forward to form new ideas and techniques to better their capability for the subject who needs our aid.