Team members during winter rescue training.

Team members during winter rescue training.

Who We Are

TEAM BUSAR is non-profit 501(c)(3) organization comprised of 20 volunteer members with extensive backcountry and outdoor experience, as well as specialized professional expertise from the NPS, Army, Navy, and Air Force, aviation, tracking, survival, firefighting, law enforcement, and medical professions. After a lengthy team tryout, members complete the park service’s arduous pack test and BUSAR’s in-house specialty—the Cobra Fitness Test. Each team member is certified in wilderness medical first aid and the team boasts four EMTs, a Paramedic, a Physician Assistant, and an MD.

Team BUSAR lives and trains to uphold its motto:

  • Build The Team

  • Do The Work

  • Be The Superhero

This is core to who we are. Members participate in regular internal team exercises and cross-training with outside agencies, adding advanced proficiencies and certifications. They also pursue personal areas of focus through Individual Development Plans to teach new skills back to the team. We are constantly adding new capabilities, including canine tracking and a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capabilities, a.k.a drones.

As an extension of its mission, Team BUSAR offers Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) to the community through education campaigns within the park, seminars through REI and other local venues, and fundraising events throughout East Tennessee.

BUSAR is a vital asset to the search and rescue operations of Great Smoky Mountain National Park
— Jared St. Clair, Search & Rescue Coordinator - GSMNP
Mission briefing.

Mission briefing.

A Few of our Missions

In 2018, the team logged over 2,500 hours of training and over 1,500 hours on active missions. Our missions are frequent and varied ranging from simple carry-outs to extensive searches. A few of our more notable missions include:

  • An extensive search for a lost hiker in September/ October of 2018 involving 65 teams from four states. BUSAR contributed 16 members, logging more than 740 hours over seven days. Bringing closure to the family, a combined team of backcountry rangers and BUSAR team members inserted through 11 miles of difficult terrain to locate the missing hiker.

  • The search for Austin Bohanan in August of 2017. BUSAR contributed over 630 hours to the search, leading many of the ground teams and challenging search tasks. This was a tremendous benefit to the NPS and a comfort to the family during the 11 days leading up to his safe return.

  • The search for missing aircraft N1839X on Mt. LeConte in December of 2016. BUSAR contributed ground searchers, medical support and a lost aircraft specialist and assisted the recovery team at the crash site.

As a parent, I could not have spent another night with my son in the woods and was so thankful these men were willing to help him and his friend make it home safely. As a mother, their service was priceless
— Carolyn D.