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SAREX is the annual Northern California Search and Rescue Exercise sponsored by California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal-OES) and one or more host agencies. The event takes place the weekend after Labor Day, and rotates annually throughout northern California county venues.
SAREX was conceived on a wet and chilly September weekend in 1982, when CARDA held a specialized, multi-agency training event at Folsom Dam. The driving force behind the event’s success, Larry Peabody, along with Bob Hill (then-Chief of the Cal-OES Law Enforcement Branch), determined that an annual gathering of the entire California SAR community would be an excellent means of providing high-quality, up-to-date SAR training. The following year, Peabody and others took on the task of creating a premier annual SAR training event, a three-day forum for exchanging skills and information, held in Northern California. The long history of SAREX attests to the utility and power of the event, as the courses and attendance continue to improve. A large debt of gratitude is owed to the dozens of sheriff’s offices, other SAR agencies, and their hundreds of volunteers who assist each year in developing curriculum, teaching courses, preparing meals, and hosting the largest annual SAR exercise in the State.