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Field Guide for Palouse/Clearwater Search & Rescue Members - page 2 / 7





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C. North Idaho Trackers

North Idaho Trackers are a group of highly trained individuals who specialize in the tracking of human beings.  Because of the unique nature of each person's footprint, and because walking humans generally leave a clue about every 24 inches, the North Idaho Trackers are able to distinguish one person's tracks from another.  Although the North Idaho Trackers are highly trained to a level that very few of us will achieve, we can become clue-aware.  Clue awareness is described later in this manual.

The training that the trackers have taken allows them to eliminate tracks that were not made by the search subject, and thereby speed the search process.  As with the Horse Posse, there are certain things that should be done and things that should not.

Tracks of interest should be flagged with grid tape (including date, time, team, and description), drawn

If time permits, make a drawing of the footprint.

Notify Base Camp of the find, specifying the location and description of the track.

Do nothing to obscure or alter the track.

Don't assume that the footprint found is that of the subject; you are not qualified to make that judgement.

When walking a trail, don't walk down the center – that is probably where the subject walked.  Instead, walk to the side so that the tracks are preserved.

D. Search Dogs

Search dogs are an important part of any search effort because the dog can "scent" the subject either on the ground, or by what is known as "air scenting".  In either case, the dog can detect scent molecules at a great distance, though weather and terrain affect the actual distance.  PCSAR members may be assigned to dog teams; if you are on such a team, ask the dog's handler if there are any specific instructions that they would like you to follow when working with a particular animal.

E. Civil Air Patrol

The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary branch of the United States Air Force, and as such has access to fixed wing aircraft.  In most cases CAP members are organized as ground teams.  CAP members have additional training in air to ground communications.

II. Role of PCSAR

PCSAR's main mission is to put teams into the field to search for lost subjects and to get them to safety.  Teams of 3 to 8 people are formed at Base Camp and are headed by a Team Leader.  Team Leaders are discussed in detail in a later topic.

PCSAR also is the major source of support, also called overhead, personnel.  People are needed to organize the search, including:

Directing the immediate search operation.

Handling radio communication between Base Camp and teams.

Planning the next phases of the search.

Obtaining and tracking equipment.

Feeding and sheltering searchers.

PCSAR members may also be attached for liaison to teams made up primarily of people from other units.

III. The Subject

A. Who Becomes Lost?

Almost anyone can become lost due to a variety of factors.  Subjects can rang from the young to elderly.  They can be hunters, hikers, mountain bikers, or Alzheimer patients.  They can become lost because of unfamiliarity with the terrain, weather changes, poor judgement, or bad luck.  Whatever the reason for becoming lost, a lost person is (at least initially) an emergency.

B. Reaction to Becoming Lost

Reactions to becoming lost vary widely.  Some people panic and wander aimlessly, quickly tiring themselves.  Others stop where they are and make themselves as comfortable as possible, awaiting rescue.  Predictions of an individual's behavior are fuzzy, although search managers have general expectations.  The operative thinking is to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

C. Subject Movement

Although we hope that a subject will stay put upon realizing that he/she is lost, this does not always happen.  Depending upon the subject's mental condition (which changes as he/she remains lost, his/her energy wanes, and time passes), he/she may move in what to the searcher seems an irrational manner.  A primary search objective is to use clues to determine the subject's movement.

D. Subject Situation

1. Injured

An injured subject is unlikely to move very far after the injury occurs.  This aids searchers by reducing the possible search area.  However, moving an injured person is much more difficult.  It is important that an injured subject be given the best possible medical treatment, remembering to not exceed the searcher's level of training.  An untrained person can do more harm than good, and could end up as the defendant in a lawsuit.

If you are on a team that finds an injured person, immediately do two things.  First, determine the condition of the subject.  The person with the most medical training takes charge.  For example, if you are trained at the Basic First Aid level and another person has Medical First Responder training, the Medical First Responder takes charge.  Second, notify Base Camp of the subject's condition and the team's location.  Base Camp will give instructions from that point, and will create an evacuation team

PCSAR Field Guide August 2011Page 2

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