Who we are:
We are a membership comprised of roughly 45 volunteers from Whatcom County that come from a variety of backgrounds but share some common threads. We are all avid backcountry users that believe in helping other backcountry users during times of difficulty. We are backcountry skiers, climbers, mountaineers, and first responders.
What we do:
Bellingham Mountain Rescue is dispatched by the sheriff’s office to provide first response and rescue in our rugged corner of the North Cascades. This includes areas such as Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, the Twin Sisters range, and the remote Picket Range. This also includes the more frequented venues along the highway 542 corridor, such as the backcountry immediately adjacent to Mt. Baker ski area. We are mission ready 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in all seasons and during all weather conditions. We often work alongside outside agencies that may have additional resources for rescue such as the U.S Navy, Homeland Security, and Snohomish County’s helicopter rescue team.
What’s the level of commitment?
The decision to pursue membership needs to be carefully examined by each individual. The nature of our missions requires a degree of self-reliance while in the backcountry. Our rescuers commonly embark on missions as small teams of 3 or 4 with the expectation of being completely self sufficient for up to 24 hours in the mountains. This is no easy task when considering there is also an individual that may require emergency care once reached. Because of these unique demands our new members need to be proficient in a variety of disciplines -from technical climbing methods to snow travel and avalanche awareness- before the application process ever begins. The decision to volunteer should follow an established baseline of personal experience in the mountains.
A level of commitment to attending missions, trainings, and meetings throughout the year is required to become an active member. This is not a commitment that everyone can meet but is a necessity to a team that values cohesiveness and mission readiness.
BMRC Statistics at a Glance:
Average number of missions per year: 12
Number of membership meetings per year: 11
Average number of trainings per year: 10
Average number of outreach and fundraising opportunities per year: 5
Committee and administrative tasks: numerous
Active member status is calculated using this basic scoring system. The minimum attendance requirement is set at 8 total points, meaning that for a member to remain on the active roster he or she must accrue no less than 8 total points through any combination of activities during the calendar year (January – December). For new members joining part way through the year this scoring system will begin to take effect on January 1 of the following year, allowing it to coincide with the rest of the membership.
3 points per mission per day attended
2 points per training attended
1 point per membership meeting, outreach/fundraising
The application process:
- Complete the BMRC application form, and the Department of Emergency Management background check form. Both of these forms can be found below.
- Provide a cover letter explaining your background as well as your motivations in joining Bellingham Mountain Rescue.
- Provide a sample climbing/outdoor resume that broadly reflects your proficiency and experience level. High technical ice and rock climbing ability are not mandatory requirements, however, glacier mountaineering experience is necessary.
- Email these completed forms to the board of directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Download BMRC_Application
· Download BMRC Background Check
· Review New Member Information
All applications are reviewed by an 8-member board of directors and voted on individually. Applications can be submitted at any time once all of the necessary forms are completed, however, they are only reviewed twice annually to coincide with our new membership orientations held once in the spring and again in the fall.
Once voted favorably, all applicants are required to attend a new member orientation and training. This training typically involves an evening of facility and equipment familiarization followed by a full day training session where new members are introduced to standard operational practices found in mountain rescue and will be provided an outline of expectations. This training will also serve as a verification of mission readiness by including a “pack check” – to ensure each new member is properly equipped for missions, along with a demonstration of basic technical ropes competency. This orientation is the best forum to have any and all questions answered relating to the world of Bellingham Mountain Rescue.
The largest purpose of this new member training is team building and creating an environment that facilitates the long-term retention of our volunteers. This cannot be overstated. Those unable to attend this orientation and training will be invited to attend the next available offering. Applicants unable to attend due to special circumstances will be considered by the board of directors on a case-by-case basis.