1. #1
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    Default Wilderness/Wide area SAR

    Hey gang. I have a few quick questions about wide area search and rescue as it relates to missing person searches.

    As a fire service how do you respond to missing person incidents?

    Does your agency participate in these types of events?

    If you do what role do you play in the search?

    Finally if you do participate what standards or credentials do you use to bench mark your response?

    Thanks
    John Halbrook
    www.halbrookassociates.com

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    We operate within a mountain recreational community, and run a half dozen or so SAR calls each summer in the immediate recreational area surrounding the resort and town. These can be anything from missing persons, to identified rescue or recovery scenarios. Our "defined" response radius for SAR calls is considered to be Peak to Peak in our mtn valley, or about a rough 10 km max radius from town. All calls outside that area are immediatley referred to regional volunteer SAR sponsored by the Provincial Emergency program (PEP), and the RCMP. For calls within that area, we conduct the intial investigation and hasty search, and advise and/or call for the regional team if those efforts are unsuccessful or we anticipate complication.

    Calls during winter season within our Ski Area Boundary are handled similarly by Resort staff first (Security and/or Pro Patrol), and we are called along with the Regional group if the hasty search is unsuccessful. Many of our FD members are either Pro Patrol with the local ski mtn, or licensed Backcountry Guides with one of the Hunting/Fishing or ATV/Snowmobile Outfitters as well.

    If the incident is anticipated to outgrow our capabilities (via boundaries or resource/training), or extend into a second day, PEP assigns a Search Manager from the local group, and we continue to provide manpower, coordination of local resources, and general logisitical support. We only see perhaps one or two large incidents like that each year.

    For consistency of training, we use the IFSTA Fire Service Search and Rescue curriculum for dept wide awareness and ops training, with applicable tech level certifications from the various regional providers (Rescue Canada, Rigging For Rescue, etc.).

    The larger organizations such as PEP and RCMP follow ERI or NASAR standards. At the FD level, we only began running SAR calls in the last 10 years or so after a decline in membership and response from the regional PEP team (decreasing volunteerism again ) saw intial response times far exceeding our entire operational period for most of these calls. We have been discussing a program to more closely integrate some of the willing FD's into the provincial SAR training program, since our assembly times are in minutes year round, not hours.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

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    Thanks for the information.

    Could anyone describe how an activation for a SAR works within your department?

    And

    What specialized training/equipment do you put your crew through?

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    fmc204

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    In our response area we go with a unified command with local police, We can put the manpower in the street faster, with mutual aid and all if needed. If there are no reports of injuries or anything else it is a police matter until injury occurs,or rescue is needed, so they become the lead agency until then. But we carry the topo maps and GPS. We also have the use of a tech rescue team should it involve any rope work or confined space should the victim have fallen into a pit or open cavern. We activate through our regular response system and it usually requires a full recall of all available of duty firefighters and sometimes mutual aid. We have used it to great success in the past, we also have or dive team stand by if it is near water. We keep most of our personnel up to speed with the NFPA 1670 and 1006 standards for wilderness search and do our own GPS training drills and thermal imaging training for outdoor search. We also have mou's with the nearest medical helo for their large search lights for fly overs, works great when needed. Hope this helps a little, any other questions just ask, someone here will have an answer or know where to find it.

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    fmc204

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    Just one more thing, if needed. In Mass we have a state wide immobilzation plan already in place, so we can and will respond anywhere we are asked to go. No questions asked by our Chiefs they fully support this kind of operation and they will respond to assist also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIRELT03 View Post
    We keep most of our personnel up to speed with the NFPA 1670 and 1006 standards for wilderness search and do our own GPS training drills and thermal imaging training for outdoor search. We also have mou's with the nearest medical helo for their large search lights for fly overs, works great when needed.
    Bit-o-a-sidetrack, but have you found any unique tips or tactics for SAR calls with the TIC?

    We just got our first TIC last year, and have used it from the helicopter already to help locate a wildlife mauling victim. It was suprisingly effective, but we have not yet put any formal training together for this type of use. Always looking for ideas...
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

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    In my area, FD is not involved in Wilderness/Urban SAR assignments. It is all handled by our Sherriff's department volunteers.

    We work with our local PD agencies for inside city limits, but in the 'wilderness' portions of our county, the Sherriff is the IC. Our volunteer department are sworn Reserve officers (no guns), and we train on Ropes, FRA, and search techniques. We are fortuante that we have a couple of paramedics and ER nurses in the unit so they usually do the medical aid. Us EMT's just support them.

    They do not use a TIC, budget reasons have not allowed them to afford one.

    Anthony

  8. #8
    fmc204

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    Not a lot of really unusual tips or tactics involved actually. We just figured out the farthest reach of each brand of camera we have and use it to scan the area prior to our personnel walking into that specific area. While doing this we can also check for any unusual critters that you may not want to come in contact with. Have your members figure out what they are actually looking at when the camera lights up someone or something, is the victim partially covered with debris or things like that. Do you have colored screens or the old black and white ones, little different read on each. We started by using it at mva's to check for other victims in the woods when we thought there might be a second passenger or more in the vehicle and we couldn't find one. Works quite well when the guys have experience with it. On the lighter side, I have also been teaching at departments were you see a sign up list for the camera and when asked you find out they were using it to jack deer at night, not a good thing but training??? Over all thou it does take a little time to use it, obviuosly can't look while walking in the woods and might take a few batteries depending on the length of the search.

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