If a tragedy occurs, the federal Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) program was amended in 2013 and now includes SAR personnel, as well as certain EMS responders.
The PSOB is a program created by Congress in 1976 to support publically employed (federal, state or local government) peace officers, EMS personnel and firefighters killed or disabled in the line of duty. The program, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance within the U.S. Department of Justice, provides a benefit to the family of those killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty. It also provides educational benefits to dependents of those killed or disabled in the line of duty.
After the passage of HB 320 in 2008, many SAR organizations in Alaska requested a quick link to statutes pertaining to SAR. This page contains Alaska legislation citing current laws that pertain to search and rescue activities in the state of Alaska. If members locate additional statutes that should be added to this reference, please send the language and link to email@example.com. We will do our best to get them posted.
SAR statute links:
HB #320 language from www.legis.state.ak.us
Articles in Alaska state law include:
Sec. 18.60.115. Search and rescue training. The commissioner of public safety or the commissioner’s designee may organize and conduct a search and rescue training exercise to prepare for a response to a search and rescue activity under AS 18.60.120. Only the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may authorize a person to participate in a search and rescue training exercise under this section.
Sec. 18.60.120. Search and rescue parties.
Upon being notified that a person is lost, injured, killed, or is in need of immediate rescue, the commissioner of public safety or a designee may appoint a competent person to organize, direct, and guide a search and rescue party for the purpose of rescuing or retrieving the person or the person’s remains. Only the commissioner, the commissioner’s designee, or the person appointed to organize, direct, and guide a search and rescue party may authorize a person to participate in the search and rescue party.
Sec. 18.60.125. Civil immunity.
A person may not bring a civil action for damages against the state, a political subdivision of the state, or the officers, agents, or employees of the state or a political subdivision of the state for a death, personal injury, or property damage that results from an act or omission in performing or failing to perform activities or duties authorized under AS 18.60.115 – 18.60.175. This section does not apply to a civil action for damages as a result of intentional misconduct within the course and scope of employment or agency and with complete disregard for the safety and property of others.
Sec. 18.60.130. Expenses of search and rescue parties.
The expense of the search and rescue party shall be paid out of the state treasury upon vouchers properly made out, signed, and sworn to by the person appointed to direct the search and rescue party. The oath to the voucher shall be taken and made before the commissioner of public safety or a designee and may be paid only after it has been approved by the commissioner of public safety or a designee. In approving the voucher, the commissioner of public safety or a designee shall consider the necessity of the search and rescue party, the reasonableness of the expenses, and the proper audit of the voucher.The commissioner of public safety or the commissioner’s designee may organize and conduct a search and rescue training exercise to prepare for a response to a search and rescue activity under AS 18.60.120. Only the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may authorize a person to participate in a search and rescue training exercise under this section.
Sec. 18.60.175. Regulations.
The Department of Public Safety shall adopt regulations necessary to carry out the duties assigned by AS 18.60.115 – 18.60.170, including regulations dealing with the handling of non-expendable property purchased during a search or rescue mission and expenditures of money for search and rescue. The regulations shall be adopted in accordance with AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act).
Sec. 09.65.090. Civil liability for emergency aid.
(a) A person at a hospital or any other location who renders emergency care or emergency counseling to an injured, ill, or emotionally distraught person who reasonably appears to the person rendering the aid to be in immediate need of emergency aid in order to avoid serious harm or death is not liable for civil damages as a result of an act or omission in rendering emergency aid. (b) A member of an organization that exists for the purpose of providing emergency services is not liable for civil damages for injury to a person that results from an act or omission in providing first aid, search, rescue, or other emergency services to the person, regardless of whether the member is under a preexisting duty to render assistance, if the member provided the service while acting as a volunteer member of the organization; in this subsection, “volunteer” means a person who is paid not more than $10 a day and a total of not more than $500 a year, not including ski lift tickets and reimbursement for expenses actually incurred, for providing emergency services. (c) The immunity provided under (b) of this section does not apply to civil damages that result from providing or attempting to provide any of the following advanced life support techniques unless the person who provided them was authorized by law to provide them: (1) manual electric cardiac defibrillation; (2) administration of antiarrhythmic agents; (3) intravenous therapy; (4) intramuscular therapy; or (5) use of endotracheal intubation devices. (d) This section does not preclude liability for civil damages as a result of gross negligence or reckless or intentional misconduct.
Sec. 23.30.092. Volunteer ambulance attendants’, police officers’, fire fighters’, and search and rescue personnel’s insurance.
A political subdivision may elect to provide benefits and compensation to its volunteer ambulance attendants, police officers, fire fighters, or search and rescue personnel by obtaining insurance that would provide its volunteer ambulance attendants, police officers, fire fighters, or search and rescue personnel with benefits and compensation at least equivalent to those conferred upon volunteer ambulance attendants, police officers, fire fighters, or search and rescue personnel by this chapter, and the election shall be considered compliance with the coverage and insurance provisions of this chapter. The election shall be made by filing copies of the insurance policy or policies with the commissioner.
Sec. 23.30.246. Search and rescue personnel as state employees.
(a) A resident of the state who temporarily volunteers to participate in a search and rescue training exercise or a search and rescue activity and who suffers injury or death during the course and within the scope of training for or providing search and rescue services is considered an employee of the state for purposes of this chapter if, at the time of the injury or death, the volunteer (1) is an authorized participant in a search and rescue training exercise under AS 18.60.115 or a search and rescue activity under AS 18.60.120; and (2) is not otherwise covered for that injury or death by an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy or self-insurance certificate. (b) Notwithstanding the methods for calculating an employee’s gross weekly earnings under AS 23.30.220 , the gross weekly earnings for a resident of the state temporarily engaged as a volunteer under (a) of this section are equal to the state average weekly wage.