Who We Are

Our membership is made up of professional men and women like yourself. We have among our membership military personnel, engineers, technical, government personnel as well as professional and volunteer firefighters, managers, laborers, etc. All it takes to be an active member of TSAR is a willingness to help others and a love for the out of doors. When, where and how often you respond is totally up to you.

Elected Officers

Commander:  Jim Russell

Jim Russell was transplanted from New England to Virginia Beach, Virginia in 2001 and has been involved in the Virginia Search and Rescue program since 2014. In addition to being the Group Commander of Tidewater Search and Rescue (TSAR), Jim is also the group’s Virginia Search and Rescue Council (VASARCo) representative, dispatcher, and recruiter.  Jim is also an active member and Director of the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI).

He holds certifications as a Search Team Leader (STL), Management Team Member (MTM), and Tracking Technician (TT) from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). In 2019, Jim became a VDEM Adjunct Instructor for the Virginia Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) Academy’s Foundations for Awareness, Signcutting, and Tracking (F.A.S.T.) class. Also in 2019, he became an evaluator for the Virginia tracking program, providing evaluations for those interested in becoming VDEM certified human trackers or re-certifying. Since attending comparative osteology workshops at Radford University and Western Carolina University, Jim has been researching and developing his own workshops for comparative osteology, comparing and identifying animal versus human bones that are found during cold case searches. He has recently published is first book which supplements these workshops titled Animal vs. Human Bones: Vol. 1 – White-tail Deer. He has also recently launched The Russell Bone Atlas, a comparative osteology website at http://RussellBoneAtlas.wordpress.com that searchers can use while in the field to help identify bones.

When he’s not deployed at a search or away for training, Jim volunteers with the Boy Scouts as an Assistant Scoutmaster and a Search and Rescue merit badge counselor often introducing scouts to the art of tracking. In addition to Search and Rescue, Jim spends much of his free time outdoors hiking, fishing, boating, and aimlessly wandering through the woods.

Operations Section Chief:  Steve Fesko

Steve Fesko grew up in Fayetteville, NY, where, as a child, he was actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America and was instilled with a love of the outdoors and all the adventures it provided. He moved to Virginia from New York in 1972 and graduated from Old Dominion University with a BS in Computer Science. Steve began a long career serving the US Military, Law Enforcement and Security communities. After the tragedy of 911 Steve became interested in emergency services and joined the Virginia Beach Community Emergency Response Team (VBCERT). Looking to expand his involvement and education, along with a strong desire to get back out into the outdoors, Steve joined Tidewater Search and Rescue (TSAR) in 2016. He became very active in the group, taking advantage of the many education opportunities provided by both TSAR and VDEM, He became certified as a Search Team Member, Search Team Leader and in Management Team Member. He regularly attends the annual Virginia SAR Conferences and is planning to begin his certification path towards Tracker in 2020. Steve was elected as Logistics Section Chief for TSAR in 2017 and as Plans Section Chief in 2019. In addition to his SAR involvement, Steve is also working part time for the Virginia Beach Police Department and is actively involved in his community as the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for his neighborhood.

Plans Section Chief:  Kevin Brewer

Kevin grew up in Western PA where during his high school years he gained his affinity for Emergency Services and Fire Rescue.  His first missing person search was during his time as a volunteer fireman in the town in which he grew up. Since moving to Virginia in 1984 and having lived here for several years he longed for a new challenge. After seeing news reports on several different missing persons in the Hampton Roads and surrounding areas he decided to pursue joining a Wilderness Search and Rescue team as it combined both his love for the out of doors as well as his deep desire to be part of something greater than himself that involved several aspects of Emergency Services. He is an active member of TSAR having responded to hundreds of lost/missing person searches spanning more than 25 years. In that time, he has held multiple management offices over many years within the group and currently holds the positions of Planning Section Chief and training officer. Currently he is certified and actively participates in missions as a Search Mission Coordinator and Technician level Mantracker as well as a Search Team Leader. Over the past couple of years Kevin has also deployed on behalf of VDEM and COVSAR during Natural Disaster activations. He is a past president of the Commonwealth of Virginia Search and Rescue Council and was a SAR Instructor for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management where he has taught SAR, LE and FD First Responders.

Kevin is retired as a Quality Assurance Manager with over 30 years of experience in standards, process, procedures and instruction in manufacturing and engineering fields.

Logistics Section Chief:  Jake Arnold

Jake grew up in the small town of Manchester MD. Growing up he was active in Boy Scouts, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout. Growing up he spent his weekends and spare time camping, hiking, and backpacking throughout MD, WV, VA, and PA. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Chemistry at Towson University, where he joined the Forensic Science Student Organization (FSSO). The FSSO is an active group of students, who study Forensics or Criminal Justice and practice Forensic Applications, while also assisting local and distant Law Enforcement Agencies in looking for missing persons or victims of violent crimes in Open or Cold Case Investigations. Here is where his interest peaked in joining a Search and Rescue Team, working with Marykand and Kentucky SAR Teams and Cadaver Dogs to search for scattered or buried remains. While in college he assisted a Forensic Anthropologist with their research in human remains, as well as working with skeletal collections from archaeological sites, furthering his interest in bones. He moved down to Virginia Beach once hired by VBPD as a Forensic Services Technician. He joined TSAR to combine his love for hiking, wilderness survival, forensics, and assisting the community in searching for those that have gone missing. He is also working to join the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI). He spends his free time as a nature/landscape and portrait photographer, as well as hiking, camping, backpacking, exploring, and traveling.

Finance Section Chief:  Sharyn Booker

Appointed Officers

Communication Unit Leader:  Kevin Brewer

Dispatch Officer:  Cathy Margiotta

Documentation Unit Leader:  Kevin Brewer

Medical Unit Leader:  Chris Spaulding

Public Information Officer:  Kimberly Williamson

Safety Officer:  Scott Brown

Training Officer:  Kevin Brewer

VASARCO Representatives:

    • Steve Fesko
    • Jim Russell

Web Site Team:

    • Cathy Margiotta
    • Steve Fesko
    • Chris Hendrix
    • Elsbeth Thurston