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Founded in 2021 by experienced members of existing SAR Units, Highlands Search and Rescue (HISAR) is an all-volunteer non-profit Ground and Mounted Search and Rescue unit based in Penobscot/Piscataquis Counties - a region known as the Maine Highlands - but we respond to search and rescue operations throughout the State of Maine. HISAR is a a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, a registered Maine non-profit organization and a Certified Unit under the Maine Association for Search and Rescue (MASAR).

Highlands SAR’s mission is to assist in the location and evacuation of, and possible medical care for, lost, overdue, stuck, or deceased recreationalists, children or adults who have wandered away from caretakers, and any other individual who is reported as lost or injured and who is suspected of being located in the wilderness of Maine. In support of this mission, we provide our members with high-quality, frequent training, and our members have excellent response rate for missions. Finally, HISAR provides an educational resource to the State of Maine through “preventative search and rescue” outreach and educational presentations.

HISAR has two Divisions, Ground and Mounted. Our Mounted Division specializes in utilizing horses’ natural ability for Scent Detection to aid in the search; that is, we teach our horses to find people by using their noses. Two of our founding members were central to the process of creating the first-known regional or national certification standard for Mounted Air Scent Detection teams. Part of the reason this new unit was founded was so that we could provide our members with a heavier focus on training in general, but especially training in this new skill. 

While we do respond to SAR missions Statewide, our membership base and training locations are mainly concentrated within the Maine Highlands region. In part, this is to minimize members’ travel expense/time while fulfilling our goal of providing frequent, high-quality training. It is also so that we can more thoroughly build relationships with local agencies to enhance training opportunities and raise awareness regarding wilderness search and rescue.

We have quarterly business meetings, and offer at least one training per month. During riding season (April - October) we offer Mounted training sessions in between the Ground training exercises. 



We only have one level of membership. While we do provide numerous training opportunities, our members are free to be active at whatever level they feel capable of committing to. If a member does not meet certain minimum attendance requirements for meetings and training exercises then they will lose voting privileges and be removed from the Callout List for missions until they improve their attendance.


For more details about what is required of a Mission-Ready member, visit our Training/Certification page.

  • Non-Mission-Ready Support Staff: These members perform administrative, operations, or logistics support tasks but their training or attendance is not where it needs to be in order to deploy on a mission.

  • Mission-Ready Support Staff: These members are able to deploy on missions as support staff only.

  • Mission-Ready Ground Searcher: These members are able to deploy on missions in ground search capacity, either as a Trainee or a Certified Search Team Member.

  • Mission-Ready Mounted Team: These members are Search Team Members who have also qualified, with their equine partner, as a Mounted Team Trainee, Certified Mounted Team, or Certified Mounted Air Scent Team.

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