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Field Guide for Palouse/Clearwater Search & Rescue Members - page 3 / 7





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if it is necessary.

2. Stranded (Otherwise Healthy)

Searches are conducted in which the subject is merely lost; for example overdue hunters or day-hikers.  In this situation the subject has suffered no adverse effects from his/her experience, and only needs the assistance of Search and Rescue to get out of the woods.  These are (thankfully) the majority of the searches conducted in Latah County.  This type of search is also the most common type of urban search (see The Search As a Crime Scene).

3. Illness

Occasions arise in which a person becomes ill while in the woods.  Causes include chronic ones such as diabetes or angina, or acute ones such as cardiac arrest, influenza, or food poisoning.  If a person is known to have a medical condition, you learn it in your briefing.  There are times when a condition such as diabetes directly contributes to the subject becoming lost, and as a searcher you should become familiar with medical conditions and their effects upon a person's judgement.

4. Runaway / Unwilling Subject

The runaway or unwilling subject presents special problems for searchers.  It is difficult enough to find someone who wants to be found.  A person who is actively avoiding searchers can prove extremely difficult (and frustrating) to locate and "run to ground".  Unwilling subjects' reasons for avoiding searchers range from teenagers running away from home to fugitives from the law.  The latter happened in 1992, and in searches like this, uniformed Sheriff's officers are added to teams.

5. The Bastard Search

In another, fairly frequent, search scenario, a subject is reported missing, but is actually at a location unknown to the reporting party.  One essential part of any search is to check these other locations, and if the subject is found there, to start one's address to him/her with "You Bastard!"

6. Deceased Subject

Although most searchers would prefer not to admit it, there are times when the subject has died before a search has been started.  These fatalities could be from heart attack, gunshot wound, hypothermia, or a myriad other causes.  If a deceased subject is found, Base Camp needs to be notified, and the scene must be protected as a potential crime scene.  Since family and friends of the subject may hear radio traffic, the event is reported using a special "death code" that communicates the situation to the Search Coordinator so that he/she can control the notification of loved ones.  In the past, the death code was often that the team has "rendezvoused with Team 25".  The death code to be used for a particular team and search is stated in the briefing, and is recorded on the Team Assignment Sheet.

Encountering a deceased subject is a traumatic situation for the search team.  Take time to compose yourself before commencing radio transmissions.  Avoid blaming

yourself with "if I had only done…"  It is unlikely that there really was much that you could have done to change the situation.

Once the death has been reported, secure the area for Law Enforcement personnel.  Do nothing to further alter the scene, since it can provide a wealth of forensic evidence to the investigating officer, especially clues as to what happened to the person prior to his or her death.  Also see the section on The Search as a Crime Scene.

IV. The Searcher

A. General Expectations

As a search and rescue member, keep these expectations in mind:

Rescuer first!  You are an unpaid professional who is giving of your own personal time and energy to become a member of a SAR team.  You should never risk your own safety.

The people for whom we search are "subjects", and sometimes "patients".  Avoid using the term "victim".

Until we know otherwise, every search should be treated as a crime scene.

Never exceed your level of training, for your and your subject's sake.

Search activities are subject to rapid change.  You are expected to perform the duties assigned to you by the Search Manager (as long as you are trained and capable of such), even if you don't understand why.

You are the Search Manager's Senses.  If you are directed to do something that seems illogical or extremely difficult, you have the duty to report your status and observations.  For example, if you are directed to climb a hill and you observe that your assigned route is covered with dense brush, but a nearby route is open, you are expected to report that fact.

If you don't understand something, you are expected to ask.  There are very few stupid questions in SAR.

B. Training

1. First Aid

Palouse/Clearwater Search and Rescue members are trained to at least "Basic First Aid" level.  Free First Aid classes are given periodically by certified instructors from Latah County Search and Rescue units, and are oriented to SAR conditions.  Completion of any Basic First Aid course (including CPR) is sufficient to qualify.  Individuals are encouraged to acquire further training, (i.e. First Responder and E. M. T.) although costs are borne by the individual.

2. Search Techniques

Members are trained in the techniques and procedures used on a search..  This includes the techniques of searching an area, callout procedures, Base Camp setup and procedures, briefing and debriefing, communications, and search termination.

PCSAR Field Guide August 2011Page 3

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