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Field Guide for Palouse/Clearwater Search & Rescue Members - page 1 / 7





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Field Guide for Palouse/Clearwater Search & Rescue Members

Based upon work by Graham Driskell, 1994-1995

I.PCSAR and Latah County Search and Rescue Council1

A.Vehicle Posse1

B.Horse Posse1

C.North Idaho Trackers1

D.Search Dogs2

E.Civil Air Patrol2

II.Role of PCSAR2

III.The Subject2

A.Who Becomes Lost?2

B.Reaction to Becoming Lost2

C.Subject Movement2

D.Subject Situation2

IV.The Searcher3

A.General Expectations3



V.The Search5

A.Check In and Check Out5

B.Overhead Team - Search Management5

C.Team Formation and Team Leaders6

D.Types of Search6

VI.Search Methods6

A.Hasty Search6

B.Purposeful Wandering6

C.Tight Grid Search6

D.Evidence Search6

VII.The Search as a Crime Scene6

A.Rules of Evidence7

B.Taking Notes7

I. PCSAR and Latah County Search and Rescue Council

Palouse/Clearwater Search and Rescue is a unit of Latah County Search and Rescue Council and has a large variety of resources available should we need them on a search.  Palouse/Clearwater Search and Rescue is the unit that does the walking when a search is called, but that is not the whole extent of what we do.  Because we are solely a ground unit, we have the most extensive training in ground search techniques of the entire Latah County Search and Rescue Council.  We train in high

angle rescues, medical evacuation, and a host of other highly specialized rescue operations.

All of Latah SAR's resources coordinate through the Latah County Sheriff's Office.  Other resources from outside our immediate area are also available should the need arise.  Examples include helicopters from Spokane, and search dogs from Post Falls.  Using the helicopters, we can get search dogs into the field quickly.

We also assist the St. Joe Valley SAR if they require it, and they in turn assist us should we need the extra personnel.  In addition, we are the primary response unit for Whitman County, Washington.

On an actual search, PCSAR very often has teams attached to other units in a support role.  These units include the Sheriff's Mounted Posse (Horse Posse), North Idaho Trackers, Search Dog teams, Vehicle Posse, Civil Air Patrol, Snowdrifters (snowmobiles).  Each of these units is trained in specific aspects of search and rescue techniques, and when used in combination with each other they make a very effective search unit.

A. Vehicle Posse

The Vehicle Posse is responsible for setting up and maintaining the perimeter of the search area, once the Search Coordinator has established it.  In addition, vehicles are used to transport PCSAR teams to and from the field.  Vehicle Posse members use their four-wheel drive vehicles to cover rough roads that are inaccessible to normal vehicles.  They can cover more roaded territory more rapidly than other teams or units.  Their disadvantage is that they are in vehicles, and thus can easily miss clues that a ground team would probably see.

B. Horse Posse

Much like the Vehicle Posse, the Horse Posse is a part of the Sheriff's Office, though they ride horses rather than drive.  The Horse Posse coordinates with ground teams, and in many cases are tightly coordinated.  Because they are on horseback, Horse Posse teams can cover a greater amount of territory than teams on foot, as long as that territory is navigable by horse.  Members of the Horse Posse can often see clues better than Vehicle Posse members.

When encountering a Horse Posse team in the field, there are certain dos and don'ts for ground teams that make it less likely for the horse to spook:

Make sure that the horse sees you.  This seems simple enough, but it is critical for horse and rider.  Horses do not have binocular vision, as do humans; because a horse's eyes are on each side of its head, the horse sees things in two parts.  While a horse may be looking at you with one eye, the other eye is seeing something else.

When encountering a horse and rider on a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side.  If you hear a horse team approaching, make a little noise to alert both horse and rider of your presence.  Do not yell; a normal conversational tone of voice is usually sufficient to let them know that you are in the area.

When in the presence of a horse, avoid making sudden or abrupt movements.

PCSAR Field Guide August 2011Page 1

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