Technical Team Leader, TRTL

Position Category: 
All-Hazard Positions
Position Code: 
Functional Area: 
AD Class: 


The purpose of this position is to supervise and lead a component of a technical search, rescue, or recovery function during incident operations.  This includes responsibility for all personnel and equipment resources as well as overseeing and directly supervising members of a technical rescue team.


  • Supervises, leads, and performs search, rescue, or recovery operations in a vertical or near vertical environment.  Coordinates, manages, and supervises assigned technical search, rescue, and recovery activities.  Develops and completes all incident tactical objectives.
  • Develops and implements the technical search and rescue component of the Incident Action Plan.  Coordinates operations, and directs searches in outdoor environments or other locations using appropriate search equipment and techniques such as hasty searches, grid searching for evidence or clues, ground, aerial or water based searches, helicopter rescue operations, etc.
  • Coordinates, manages, and supervises assigned search and reconnaissance activities.  Determines team search and reconnaissance operational and logistical needs.  Evaluates the capabilities/limitations of team members, and ensures adherence to all safety procedures.  Evaluates team member performance.
  • Accounts for, and ensures the proper utilization of all issued SAR equipment.
  • Presents briefings, prepares situation reports and updates mission objectives and status changes.  Develops and completes all incident tactical objectives and reports.  Maintains accurate records, and completes all after-action requirements.  Completes operational period unit logs.
  • Provides input at the field level concerning development of new technologies, equipment, tactics and skills as they pertain to the search component.
  • Performs additional tasks or duties as assigned during a mission.

Position Knowledge and/or Requirements

  • Operational knowledge of the Incident Command System (ICS), and the development and use of integrated action planning concepts and processes.
  • Advanced knowledge of technical strategies and techniques, including the construction and maintenance of rigging systems, operating raise and lower systems, rigging and operating mechanical advantage systems, managing rope as it moves through a system, managing and assisting litters, rigging anchor systems, and ascending and descending fixed lines.
  • Knowledge of technical search equipment, and the ability to operate and maintain a variety of search, rescue, and recovery equipment and maintain proficiency as technology changes.
  • Advanced knowledge of search, rescue, and recovery operations and techniques including area sectoring, search patterns, canine operations, victim location clues, hazard awareness, weather implications, technical team organization and operating procedures.
  • Knowledge of technical search and rescue operation acquired through successful completion of an approved National Park Service Technical Search and Rescue course or equivalent.
  • Ability to work independently as a rescuer or litter attendant, employing advanced skills in the vertical rescue environment.
  • Knowledge of supervisory practices and principles sufficient to provide leadership, foster open communication and teamwork, provide work direction, and evaluate the performance of technical team members.
  • Knowledge of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and its appropriate use in technical search, rescue, and recovery operations.
  • Knowledge of situational awareness requirements including personal equipment, essential rescue equipment, and general all-risk hazards.  Awareness of the hazards associated with the various search environments.
  • Ability to provide emergency medical treatment as a first responder.
  • Advanced knowledge of the technical aspects of search theory, including map, compass and GPS techniques, ability to accurately sketch a search area, and recognize and identify victim location clues.  Thorough understanding of technical/electronic search device capabilities, limitations, and procedures.
  • Knowledge of the proper use and field maintenance of search and communication equipment.
  • Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.

Supervisory Controls

Work direction is provided by the Incident Commander, a Division Supervisor, Operations Section Chief, or other designated supervisor.  The work is performed independently in accordance with the Incident Action Plan, or operational directives.  Work is reviewed for acceptability and compliance with operating instructions and procedures.


Procedures for doing the work have been established and a number of specific guidelines or standard orders are available such as oral instructions, standard operating procedures, maps, instruction manuals, and health and safety codes.  Occasional problems may not be specifically covered by guidelines.

The Technical Team Leader uses judgment in determining the most appropriate guidelines, references and procedures based on the individual park rules and regulations.


The Technical Team Leader works in a wide variety of functional areas which require diverse skills, often involving critical lifesaving situations such as search and rescue, emergency medical and aviation incidents, as well as interactions that require sensitivity to business relationships.  Emergency response often involves decision-making and action in extremely adverse physical and emotional conditions and ability to function effectively in controversial and/or sensitive situations.  Other areas of responsibility such as supervision, safety, etc., require a broad range of administrative skills and knowledge of incident objectives.  Work requires application and modification of established practices in most areas of responsibility, with considerable individual discretion and judgment shown in emergency situations.

Scope and Effect

The purpose of this position is to lead a team in technical search, rescue, and recovery operations, to implement incident objectives for a safe operation, and to work for short to extended periods of time when looking for clues or lost subjects during multiple operational period incidents. 

The Technical Team Leader decisions and actions impact the safety of others, the efficiency of assignments, and the effectiveness and timeliness of mission operations.

Personal Contacts

Personal contacts are with local agency search and rescue team personnel or incident management team personnel during the duration of the incident.  Additional contacts may be made with media operations, family members, special interest groups, and others interested and assisting with the incident.

Purpose of Contacts

The purpose of contacts is to obtain briefings and orders, as well as to relay incident information to and from the incident management team and other members, and to provide general and specific information and assistance.

Physical Demands

Work routinely involves physically rigorous assignments and strenuous activity.  Incumbent must maintain excellent physical condition to carry out responsibilities including the ability to hike and climb in mountainous and desert terrain during inclement weather, to perform lengthy search, rescue and recovery missions, and to perform assignments often in remote areas of steep, hazardous terrain, accessible only by foot.  These routine and emergency situations often require clear reasoning and decisive action under conditions of extreme mental and physical stress.

Work Environment

Work environment is predominantly outdoors in all types of weather and terrain conditions, night or day, including at times in inclement weather, and for prolonged periods of time.  Travel may be by foot, ski, snowshoes, vehicle, aircraft or boat.  The incumbent is subject to cold, hot, windy, wet, or snowy conditions for several days at a time.  Working elevations range from below sea level to above 8,000 feet.


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