The majority of existing literature on search and rescue (SAR) membership examines the many apparent advantages that involvement in such work brings. However, it is equally relevant to ask what might inform decisions to leave SAR teams. This article examines the complexity of leaving decisions among SAR volunteer members by surveying 52 individuals who left their teams between March 2016 and July 2018, including follow-up interviews with eight participants. Analyses revealed that leaving decisions among SAR personnel reflect those made by other groups, with issues such as time constraints, interpersonal relationships and the task being incongruous with expectations being highlighted. However, an additional layer of complex decision making was indicated, which shows members tended not to leave right away in response to external pressures – rather, they would enter a stage of heightened sensitivity to what would otherwise be mundane problems. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.