The Pioneer Search and Rescue Team was formed in August of 1971 for the purpose of providing a professional, qualified team of citizen volunteers to assist in searches for missing persons in and around New York State. In July of 1971, a massive search for a missing 8 year old boy in the Adirondacks pointed up the need for trained and experienced search resources to be available in a timely manner when lost and/or missing persons incidents occurred. One of the great mysteries of the Adirondacks, the young boy, Douglas Legg, was never found, but the civilian community responded by forming local teams, of which the Oswego County team was the first. At the same time, the New York State Forest Rangers started a process through which they would become the governmental organization most skilled and experienced at Search and Rescue in New York State. The growth of both the civilian SAR teams and the NYS Forest Rangers SAR program have been closely tied together.

Pioneer SAR has been recognized by the Oswego County Legislature as the official Search and Rescue team for this County. What distinguishes our county SAR team is it's designation, and utilization, as a first tier response agency. Depending on the nature of a lost/missing persons call in the Couny, the 9-1-1 center will automatically activate, or place the team on stand-by pending further information. This process, in use for more than a decade now, has resulted in significantly better outcomes with fewer resources expended than what the county experienced previously. The team is automatically activated for Project Lifesaver incidents, incidents in which the caller indicates that they are "lost", and other high sense-of-urgency scenarios. In close coordination with law enforcement this approach to improving both the responsiveness, and the quality, of the responders to these types of incidents has made a marked improvement in outcomes.

Pioneer SAR has participated in hundreds of searches throughout New York State, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Team members are trained in search techniques, basic land navigation, first aid, survival, communications and other skills that enable them to deal with most search and rescue situations. As the team may be called in any weather and at any time of day, training is held regardless of weather and periodically scheduled during night time hours. Pioneer SAR is an all volunteer organization with no funding from any agency. Members are responsible for providing their own personal equipment. Team training is held a minimum of once a month. Many of the members who desire additional levels of training obtain it at their own expense.

Pioneer SAR is a member of the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams , a group they helped organize in 1974. The purpose of the Federation is to make available, in New York State, a network of SAR teams trained and experienced in search and rescue. Twice a year personnel from Federation teams meet and train together. Mock searches are held at these sessions (Comfeds) to provide participants the opportunity to work closely with each other. Typically, members of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) also participate in and observe these activities as part of their relationship with the Federation teams.

The Federation and its members work closely with the DEC's own SAR teams, the NYS Police, local law enforcement, and the individual county Sheriff's, volunteer fire departments and rescue squads.

As a volunteer organization, Pioneer SAR members serve without compensation. As they may be called out at any time, and often for days at a time, work and personal schedules may limit their participation. Although volunteers, team members consider themselves professionals- always training to maintain and improve their skills.