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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Who is C.E.M.P.?

"So That Others May Live"

Search & Rescue Motto

Although C.E.M.P. has been around for over a half century, there are many in the community who have never heard of us and have no idea how we work. This is probably a good thing. If you haven't met us, you haven't needed us.

We do the work not for pay or recognition, but because we have a true, genuine drive to give back to the community by helping people in crisis. But how? How does it work? Who are we?

Please pick a question below for some answers. And if you don't see the answer to your specific question, by all means Contact Us anytime.

Our Most Frequently Asked (And Answered) Questions

WHAT IS "C.E.M.P."?
C.E.M.P. stands for California Emergency Mobile Patrol. We're a suburban Search & Rescue team (actually the only suburban Search & Rescue team) in the city of Los Angeles. We work under the "umbrella" of the LAPD but we are not a government agency. We're an all-volunteer, non-profit, incorporated organization made up of men and women who work full time at their jobs and then volunteer on their off time for the team.
I DON'T GET IT; YOU'RE USED BY AGENCIES BUT YOU'RE NOT EMPLOYEES?
No. Most Search & Rescue teams in the United States are not full-time paid teams. There simply isn't a budget for it. Or a need for it. Search teams are called out only as needed and most agencies can't justify paying groups of people to sit and wait for a call. And most county, state and local governments simply don't have the money to employ us even on a part-time basis.

Interesting note: As the Baby Boomer generation retires and more and more people develop dementia, the rate of "walk offs" is guaranteed to substantially increase to an alarming rate. We feel that agencies in large cities will have no choice but to include search teams in emergency budgets.

Although not employees and not funded (we don't even receive gasoline for our rigs), we are at the beckon call to area agencies such as the LAPD. This comittment is a great strain to us financially, as all of our funds come from donations and/or out-of-pocket expenses.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND?
C.E.M.P. was formed in 1962 by some helpful radio communication volunteers to help the city in times of disaster. Although we have evolved through many changes, our team has been in existence for over 50 years!
HOW OFTEN ARE YOU CALLED OUT?
There is absolutely no pattern to our callout frequency. Some months we're called out almost every day, while other months we're hardly called out at all. It is very sporadic. Usually, however, when it rains it pours and we get very busy, very fast.
I SEE THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TRUCKS THAT SAY "SEARCH & RESCUE." IS THAT YOU?
No. The fire department's Urban Search & Rescue teams are part of the Los Angeles City (and County) Fire Departments. These guys are full time firefighters who perform search and rescue missions in burning and collapsed structures. They don't look for missing persons.
YOU SAY YOU OFFER LIGHTING FOR CRIME SCENES. HOW IS THAT "SEARCH & RESCUE"?
It's not. Our team is very versitile, however, and quite often used by the LAPD for other missions, such as lighting crime and accident scenes, evidence searches, evacuations and even traffic control at road closures.
WHAT KIND OF TRAINING DO YOU HAVE?
Our applicant process includes six months of training in search techniques, rescue operations, incident command system, agency protocols and more. All of our members are advanced first aid trained (many are EMTs) and have been trained and certified in SARTech III, CERT, truck driving, communications procedures and command post operations. Our team also receives outside training from experts in the field, including a very extensive program involving the "At Risk" missing person.
HOW CAN I MAKE A DONATION?
You can donate online HERE, or you can always Contact Us to make a check donation or personal gift. All donations are tax-deductible contributions.
HOW CAN I BECOME A MEMBER?
You can join our team by filling out an Online Application. Then, attend an Orientation and learn all about us. Please visit our Recruitment Page for more information.
HOW MANY HOURS ARE REQUIRED OF YOUR MEMBERS?
Since our callouts and details vary each month, it's very difficult to explain how many hours we ask for. We do require new members to put in 60% of the mandatory hours. Some months this can be as little as 10 hours, others it can be as much as 50. We just ask that you give what you can, stay flexible and commit to us as much as you can.
DO I HAVE TO GO THROUGH A BACKGROUND CHECK TO JOIN?
Absolutely. We have been around for 50 years for several reasons; one of which is we take great efforts to ensure our team is made up of good people who want to help and not become part of the problem. We are also based at the LAPD's Devonshire Division, which has very strict restrictions on who has access to the police department's property, intelligence and general operations.

Every potential member must submit to a background check performed by the Los Angeles Police Department, including a LiveScan fingerprinting procedure.