TOTM January 2017- Search and Rescue

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Motomom34, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Topic of the Month January is Search and Rescue. Search and Rescue is a broad topic, it can range from searching for a lost person to aiding and assisting after a natural disaster. Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes are huge disasters that takes man power to locating and rescuing injured or trapped persons. What should you have when participating in a S & R operation? How can a community effectively conduct a search and rescue if the grid goes down/ or natural disaster? I wonder if anyone here has participated in a S & R operation and what tips could they share. Urban vs wilderness search and rescue operations. The locals are the ones that are first on the scene and you are the locals, so having knowledge and information of how to start, organize and participate in a search and rescue is huge.

    Here is a list of what one person feels you need in your search and rescue bag:
    ggchb3mpfjkkaooqwibv. This is basically a BOB or GHB but with rescue in mind.

    This is the chart that was used after Hurricane Katrina, it is important that structures and areas be marked after being searched that people are not being redundant. Though in some rescues, redundancy is needed:

    By Georgelazenby - Own work, CC BY 3.0, File:Katrina x large.png - Wikimedia Commons

    Due to our members living in different areas, the search and rescue you may participate in will vary. But all information and knowledge shared is important.
  2. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    SAR very roughly breaks down into two general types:
    1. Urban or sometimes called civil SAR, and
    2. Wilderness or "lost person" SAR

    The skills, training, equipment, etc. are very different between the two.

    For urban start with a CERT course. Typically two days long and focuses on searching structures, buildings and limited areas post disaster. Provides an intro to building entry, risk assessment, basic extrication, triage, etc.

    For wilderness SAR, if serious, take the NASAR (National Association for Search and Rescue) course titled Fundamentals of Search and Rescue (skip the Introduction to SAR course). FunSar is heavy on land navigation and using UTM grid coordinates so is a good course even if you aren't that interested in being on a SAR team. It follows with different search techniques, introduces tracking, the ICS (incident command system which is the national standard for interagency operations), wilderness survival, equipment discussions and etc. The course is typically about 6 days with several field exercises including night searches. It does offer the NASAR written test and prepares one to take the 1 day field practical test for SAR Technician Level II (SARTech2) certification if you want that vs the SARTechIII cert.

    NASAR has a number of subsequent courses such as Advanced SAR, Managing the Lost Person Incident, canine courses, advanced tracking, UAS operations (drones). The next course I'd suggest is the MLPI as it gets into theory more such as search statistics and probabilities, lost person behavior (the psychology of how different people tend to behave when lost), search management, more ICS, etc.

    The US Air Force also offers some SAR courses that are open to the public and first responders. Many are a week long and can be rather theoretical but still good stuff.

    Have fun, stay found.
  3. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    I have been on SAR operations and kind of wonder if the guy providing the list actually has. Make a few treks in rough terrain at night and one appreciates the advantages of traveling light while carrying just enough to sustain yourself safely for a night or two in the field.

    I don't carry toothpaste, deodorant, 4 ways to cut wood for a fire, solar charger, etc. A SAR team should always be a minimum of 4 people so your team members' stuff can serve as your backup in many cases. Yeah, having 2-3 ways of making fire is good in a BOB or GHB, but if there are 4-7 people on the team, 12-21 ways to make fire isn't needed.

    I don't carry chem lights/glow sticks. Take space, add weight and are worthless looking for tracks and clues in the dark. Carry spare batteries instead.

    That monster search light can be good if search area is more desert or open, but if searching in heavy woods, forget it. Climbing over fallen trees, moving thru the brush toting that bulk and weight will get very old very fast. A small high quality 2 AA cell LED light like a Fenix LD22 works well. On turbo mode it goes thru a set of batteries in a couple hours but the weight of spares in your pocket or pack is far better than wearing out your arms sweeping a big light with big batteries back and forth for 8 hours. I do carry a spare LD22 or a 1 cell LD21 in my pocket as a backup to my handheld light plus it can work as a backup to my head lamp (clip or tape to hat bill). Use a headlamp to see where you are walking and the handheld to sweep and search for clues. These have worked quite well for me on night searches in heavy midwest woods.

    The survival of the lost person often is dependent upon the speed of the search teams. You got to be able to move and cover ground and do it all day or all night long.

  4. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    There are SAR Events, and then there are SAR Events.... In ANY Good SAR Operation, the load out of the SAR Teams, will vary greatly, depending on the Terrain, MOSTLY, and the distance from the BaseCamp, of the Search Area. Also, remember that the Search Phase, is a completely different Deal, than the Rescue Phase, of the operation. Finding the Target is the first Issue, and needs to handled in the MOST Judicious, SAFE, and Timely method. This means each TEAM, only needs to carry enough Stuff, to provide for Searching their Assigned Area, plus enough BackUp, To sustain the Team till they can return to Base, and ReSupply. Once Found, the Search Phase is over, and the Rescue Phase begins.... The Target is NOW located, and Assets can be deployed to get the Target, back to Base. This can involve moving other Search Teams to the Target, if Practical, or sending a Rescue Team, directly from Base, to the Target, that can have any required Medic stuff, or AirLift Support, with them. In dense Forest the Search Teams need only First Responder type Medic Stuff, where the Rescue Team usually has a Qualified Medic, but doesn't need all the Search Stuff. AirLift Support is usually associated with the Outfit that is flying the Chopper, and includes Direct Ground to Chooper Comms, and will have everything needed to retrieve the Target, that is NOT on the Chooper. In many cases the the Chooper Personnel will provide both the Medic, and Support Folks, in the Crew, that are lowered to the Search Team and Found Target, for doing the extraction. In Alaska, we found this works very well, by setting up the Search Phase from Base, and making the Search Teams as unencombed and flexible in movement as possible. Comms is what makes all this possible.... The better the Comms, the easier the work....
    Motomom34 likes this.
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I thought of this topic after an experience, I had with S & R. I was not 100% confidant that I was prepared to participate in a search and rescue effort. My experience with searching for missing persons was easy but it made me realize it could have been much more. Please feel free to comment on what we should have done, mistakes made or what the good actions were.

    Here is my recent search and rescue encounter:

    A few months ago I received a robo-call from the sheriff's office stating that two children were missing. The children were elementary school age. The robo-call gave a description of the children's clothing, details of their bicycles and where they were last seen. This call came in about 9 p.m. Since it was Fall, it was real dark and getting chilly about 40's. After receiving that call, I pulled up a map and saw that the children were last seen about 5 miles (as the crow flies) from my home. There was no way I could sit at home while two children were missing. I told my youngest of the situation and said I was going to go looking. He grabbed a coat and said he was going with me. We grabbed some flash lights and interestingly, my son grabbed a metal pipe that he keeps near his bed. I stood outside of the house calling the children's names and we drove through of neighborhood with windows down, stopping, calling and listening. As we worked our way toward the last know sighting, we spotted someone from our neighborhood on foot. He was walking the paths that the school kids use.

    We arrived at the local school by using all secondary roads, calling and listening plus shining the lights in the forest hoping to catch a glimpse of a bike reflector or sign of the children. At the school there was a command post. The official search and rescue was gathering along with the sheriff's office and many locals. From talking to the locals I heard the children had been last seen 6 hours ago. In six hours a person can go far (calculate how far you can go on foot and bike in 6 hours). I looked at the search and rescue unit then realized I was not prepared. I had left the house in sneakers and a light fleece. I had my get home bag in the car but I had the thought that it did not hold all that I needed to truly participate in a search and rescue. My GHB hold stuff for one, maybe two and it holds things that were not tailored to the areas that the missing children may have been in (deep woods).

    I questioned the people milling around the command post and found that many out lying areas had not been driven around. My son and I took it upon ourselves to go check out areas we thought the kids may be at. We drove slowly, calling, listing and shining our lights. Talking to my son, I realized he was looking for the bikes. After that many hours it was a worry that the children had been snatched and that the bikes may have been deserted.

    Long story short, the residents found the kids. The search and rescue plus sheriff never got out of the parking lot. The people pulled together and we met lots of slow moving cars filled with people searching like us. People would stop and share information of areas scouted. Most of the surrounding homes had all lights on, inside and out acting like a beacon for the missing children. The way people left their homes and did an area search was touching. The children were found safe and had been further in the woods then they realized.

    Thankfully rescue was not needed in my story but had it been needed, I believe that most of the citizens searching for the children were not equipped to give aid. Had we had to expand to going in and searching the woods, I was ill equipped. My first thought is orange tape to tie on trees. I know that the fire department does this during forest fires to make the way.
    Yard Dart and Sapper John like this.
  6. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Having been part of a K9 S&R, got to agree with the above comments. Get rid of half of the cheap junque, carry more batteries and water, and carry light. The object of your search is not going to have the luxury of time for you to set up a solar panel to recharge your batteries for a couple becomes a recovery operation if you goof off like that.
    Training, training, training! If you don't know what to do, you are not helping, as another team is going to have to re-cover the area you laid scent in. Been on the "second team" and it is more work to discriminate between the real trail and what some folks that were "helping out" left.
    Forget the hygiene items, but put your extra clothes in sealed plastic. Know what is expected from the weather, too.
    If you are a real emotional type person, S&R may not be your calling. Live rescue is always good, but suicides, murders and drownings can take a toll, even for experienced members...and that includes the dogs :(
    Yard Dart and Motomom34 like this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Moto, the one thing I see lacking in your experience was comms. Sheriff dropped the ball?
  8. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Unfortunately I can't add to this discussion, from ages 5-17, I was the object of the search. Had a 'nasty' habit of wandering off on my own. First time I had just started school, and there was something for lunch I *really* wanted one day, and I felt mom was taking too long in getting ready to drive me to school. We lived out in the boonies in high desert in southern California at the time.
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    From what I have seen, many SAR Events are organized, impromptu by the nearest OnScene LEO, who likely has little or NO SAR Command experience... This hinders any SAR Event, significantly, before it even gets started.. @Motomom34 You did exactly right, by driving between you house and the search Base... if the SAR Command was Compitant, they would have debriefed each arriiving Group, to find out where they covered, on their way in, to Base, and then sent out Teams of Groups, to those places that were NOT covered enough, and have them report back via Comms, Cellphone, Radios, or other positive Comms) when they had searched their zone. Then the SAR Command can expand the Search Effort out into areas, as required, while NOT duplicating previous efforts. In Suburban areas, searching via vehicles greatly expands the area search Groups and Teams can search, per time expended...Being methodical is a VERY GOOD Strategy.. in Rugged Wilderness, SAR Command would need a completely different strategy to run a SAR Event, with different type of Assets. We do a lot of Downed Aircract SARs, up here, and most of the Search Phase is done via Aircraft, and Boats. The Resue Phase is usually done by our local Mountain Rescue Group, under the direction of an "on the ground" SAR State Trooper. If near a Road System, the Trooper roll the Command Vehile, and the local Detachment Commander, runs the Search from there. If not, then USCG & CAP run the Search Phase, along with many of the local Bush Pilots, using Aircraft Comms, until they either find the Target, or night happens. If on water, those same assets are used along with USCG BlueWarer Assets, which coordinate with the State Troopers, with assets reporting via, usually USCG Comms, back to the Troopers.... Again Comms is critical, in all SAR Events...
    Motomom34 likes this.
  10. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Great posts all round!
    I will add when I get a chance later! Keep it going, lots of very good stuff flowing all ready!
    Motomom34 likes this.
  11. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I love it.
    They state S&R couldn't untangle it's self from within its own web of red tape.
    Mean while we the people save the day.

    And to think there are people who actually can not understand why we don't want more government.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  12. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    As noted above if you check around your area tech schools and .gov agencies you may be surprised at what is available.
    I was searching for some welding courses and found some great tactical training at a tech College public safety campus.
    Motomom34 and Yard Dart like this.
  13. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    A couple points regarding Moto's experience.

    Lost kids behave very differently than say a lost hunter and calling their name often will garner no response even if they hear you. Little kids often tend to hide when they get scared and you have to find them. Plus how many times have they been sternly admonished to avoid and not talk to strangers.

    Trained searchers don't look for the lost person, they look for clues that might indicate the lost person was present and then try to discern what the clues suggest. In competent wilderness searches, every potential clue (fresh foot print, candy wrapper, bandaid wrapper, freshly broken vegetation, torn bit of clothing, etc.) is radioed into the search HQ and planners start to assemble these clues, often plotting them on maps, filtering out the noise as possible and trying to form a picture of where the person may have been and may be heading or holed up. I noticed a small tape measure was missing from the equipment list above. You have to be able to measure things like foot prints to rule out other people's prints. This gathered info also guides how search teams are deployed such as to what areas, what search techniques and spacings are are used (do you shoot for 50% probability of clue detection or close spacing shooting for 90% POD; this is where search theory comes in.)

    Searching for clues is far more productive for successful conclusions. Your son's focus on the bikes was not a bad idea as he was looking for a clue.

    Sending people out willy-nilly searching randomly also tends to inject a lot of noise factors into the search area and makes it hard if not impossible for trained SAR responders to discern the presence and direction of travel of the lost person. Granted in Moto's situation, folks were searching neighborhoods, not heavy forest with previous visitors few and far between, so the clue to noise ratio will be horrible.

    Also many times volunteers are ill prepared such as showing up in shorts and flip flops to search a few thousand acres of rugged terrain (yes, it happens) and their getting hurt or lost detracts from finding the lost person.

    sourdough145 and Motomom34 like this.
  14. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Events I participated I didn't worry much about sleeping equipment or camping but mostly spare sox and other universal clothing and first aid and climbing gear ,even a few tools . I've fixed radios in the field .
    Winter though I carried all the gear necessary in the event the team was in danger . it's happened.
    My average pack weight was about 70 lbs. fully loaded.
    Only certain events did I not take the pack walking because I was involved in a joint effort with several hundred other teams on a grid search .
    I cary a 40 lb pack every day now with FAK and other computer and toys I like to have handy.
    I did residential searches as well as wilderness and over the side heavy rescue.
    I've only got book training on swift water rescue , probably the most dangerous of all events.
    At my age 66, I could not participate in much, being more of a liability than asset .
    But you know what, if push came to shove, I'd still offer help.
    I'd rather die helping some one, safely doing what I can, that sit on the side, and feel useless .
    In the old days every one got involved in search and rescue ,it was a community effort .
    Now days people take these volunteers for granted and figure that they are paid to do this work .
    People are so ungrateful generally.
    Some bosses I worked for , supported the effort, and some did not.
    I'd like to see how interested they'd be if one of their own children were lost .
    sourdough145 and Motomom34 like this.
  15. sourdough145

    sourdough145 Holder of the M1 thumb award...

    Was a ground pounder for 12 years untill quad bypass slowed me down too much. Yongest son.took it up and is now liason between SO and SAR team. Mutual aid team for urban and wilderness search and rescue. That said there is nothing like a helo ride into the snow in Yosmite to bring home your prep level! You need to know what to prep for to get it right. Extra clothes in ziplock YES! Socks! NO COTTON in cold wet weather. Too many thought jeans were ok in snow (tourists). Deployment requirements dictate your pack size. Pack in a modular bag arrangement to be able to quickly reconfigure your pack for your needs. Bags color coded for quick identification. ie; red for medical, black for clothing, blue for food etc. We carried a houdini bag with 75 ft of rope, locking biners, webbing etc..... but for urban searchs wasn't needed. Small powerful LED flashlights are easy nowadays. Headlamps are great on the trail... Lots of sites on web to build your own pack list. Tailor to your needs not someone elses. Lists are a guideline/suggestion to what you might need.... Most importantly be part of the solution and not part of the problem. The overhead team has enough on their plate in coordination and logistics so being able to fend for yourself is a must. On a side note.... Many of these SAR people are out there unpaid, self transporting, self equiped, paid for their own training and generally really good people! A little encouragement goes a long way! These people put in a lot of time and money to help others where most won't get out of their chair or cross the street to do same.... SAR personel, dog teams, logistics people all have a job to do and they do it with pride. If you can look up your local team and help. Be advised you might not get tbe response you expect but srill worth the effort. My wish to you is to never need a SAR team, but if you need one that its there for you. Nuff said....
    arleigh, Ura-Ki, Mountainman and 2 others like this.
  16. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Both @ghrit and @BTPost make great points. Comms was an issue. The sheriff was busy with his map and organizing the official search and rescue and was not, nor did he have someone speaking to the locals showing up. The locals were speaking to each other. This was a huge mistake. The two groups were separate and no one was stepping forward to combine the effort. IMO it was the sheriffs job to appoint someone to collect phone numbers, areas covered etc. I have no clue about this sheriff, unsure if he has ever conducted a search. Actually it was 3 groups- sheriff, locals and search and rescue. We were in a parking lot and the groups were not speaking to each other. That is why I told the local ladies where I had been, I told them about my neighbor making his way on foot and where he was searching then told them where I was headed. After finding out that the kids had not been seen for hours, I could not stand there waiting.

    Actually it is a forested/ open space area that is why I liked that houses were turning on all their lights. The point of children shying from approaching a strange house was good, but it would help the lost know they were near someplace. My kids know the wooded trails, the short cuts kids tend to take. We know where the hiking trails are and that stuff. The officials may know some but locals know the area.

    Here is a story- couple years back, I saw the local ambulance crew up the road with a map, standing around. They had their map and were trying to get their bearings. Issue was that the map they were using had an old road that was used in pioneer times. The road ran through peoples back yards and had not existed in years. I told them they could not use that road as a landmark because it did not exist. That is why I think this topic is so important. I did things right but I also did something wrong. But I think locals are the key and that is why I really want to learn as much as I can because if there ever is another incident, I want to do things even better. Just from this thread, I know now that I would bring a pad of paper and pen, hand it to a person that was there but unable to search and say get phone numbers, where people have been etc.

    ***One thing I did ask the locals was if the kids were doing Pokemon Go. This incident happened when Pokemon Go was popular and since my son was doing it, I knew many of the spots that pokemon was located.
  17. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I really like this idea. What do you think about color coding bags for the event? BOB's blue, first aid- red and SAR orange or something. Someone above mentioned a measuring tape, I would like to add one to my bag but I do not think I would need it in my everyday bag
    sourdough145 likes this.
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    You may not need it in the GHB, but you oughta have one in your EDB and/or vehicle, another in the garage or basement, and still another in the kitchen. I've found nearly daily uses for knowing the size of something. I've four deployed in handy locations, not to mention rulers. YMMV, uv cuss, and measuring gadgets may not be needed for survival.
    10 footer in the kitchen (might be fine with a 6 footer here.)
    25 footer in the garage
    50 footer in the pickup
    10 footer on the workbench

    I see that the "suggested" SAR pack includes paracord. What isn't shown is the amount. Gotta say I'm curious about that.
    Also wonder why there's no rope. Back in the day, everyone carried 50 feet with clips to link up and make it longer.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  19. sourdough145

    sourdough145 Holder of the M1 thumb award...

    I use some webbing with foot calibrations on it as a length tool. 100ft of this 3/8 pulling web is lighter and about the same strength as paracord (paracord does have other uses as well). This is available at some electrical supply houses but in bulk.... It's nylon so slippery is the caution on usage. I'll take a photo and post if you wish... Smaller lengths (inches) I use my leatherman tool....
    For those truly organized people (hint I'm not one) I've seen laminated cards with contents of bag listed and attached to the drawstrings of bag. Makes for quick location and a good list for resupply after deployment is done.
    Sadly there is a bias among "professionals" in SAR against volunteers.... Even some who were better trained than they in SAR. Volunteer management should be a major item for any "professionally" managed search. Yes I have certainly seen where that is not the case.... I've also see where it's been done right! Overhead needs both SAR and good logistics training, something seldom done. ICS system is good but overly bulky for average group. Streamline version with handout cue cards is better. Cards with freqs of operation with a tag as to what each is meant for... and base radios tactical call is a good start. The more often you see events the more you realize communication is mandatory!!!!!!

    100ft is normal amount of paracord.... Rope kits were required of us... We called them Houdini Kits containing 75ft 10mm climbing rope (Dated and replaced regularly) two3ft 8mm ropes (either for belay or ascending) two bright non locking biners, two locking biners, two 15ft webs (blue), one 25 ft (any color but blue) plus one regular or rescue eight decent device. Some variation allowed but this at least, minimum one per team. Usually not required for urban searches... YMMV
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2017
    Motomom34 and ghrit like this.
  20. sourdough145

    sourdough145 Holder of the M1 thumb award...

    Not all SOs are endowed with the ability to see past their shiny shoes. But a few got it right.
    Ganado, ghrit and BTPost like this.
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