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Field Guide for Palouse/Clearwater Search & Rescue Members - page 5 / 7





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3. 48 Hour Pack

The 48-hour pack is usually a frame type pack that contains the 24-hour pack, plus a sleeping bag, tent (shared among team members), and other gear needed to keep the team functioning for two days.  This does not mean that you should pack more of everything – you still need to keep the pack weight to a value that allows you to search for an extended period.

4. Rope Rescue Equipment

Rope rescue equipment commonly consists of personal safety line and harness, plus shared ropes and hardware.  The equipment is used to provide a controlled descent for a searcher on a scree or sloped area.  If a high-angle rescue becomes necessary, notify Base Camp so that appropriate resources can be obtained.

5. Radios and Radio Etiquette

Radios are assigned to search teams as they prepare to commence a search.  Typically, one team member takes responsibility for communications.  Ground teams carry a handheld transceiver (HT).  The unit is relatively delicate.  HT's do not take well to abuse like dropping or immersion.  They transmit at relatively low power (less than 5 watts) with an inefficient (but compact!) antenna.  They run from a battery pack whose efficiency is significantly impaired by low temperature.  This means that the HT must be treated with great care.

Protect the HT from physical abuse.  Fasten it securely to a part of your clothing (typically belt) in a position where it is less likely to be bumped or scraped.  The SAR Council has a number of radio harnesses that keep the HT over you chest where it is protected and easily heard.

Protect the HT from cold weather.  If the temperature is below about 40, wear the radio (or at least put a battery pack) under your clothes so that it will be closer to room temperature.

Hold the HT so that the antenna is vertical and as high as possible.  If the unit is equipped with a speaker-mike (microphone), hold the HT in one raised hand and operate the speaker-mike with the other.  If you have an easy choice, pick the highest ground to stand.

All of the communications equipment uses a method called "squelch" to keep receiver output turned off unless a signal is present.  It takes a couple of tenths of a second from the time a signal is sensed until the receiver emits sound.  This means that when you transmit you should avoid speaking for a little longer than that time to avoid your first word(s) being cut off.

In most cases, communications will use a repeater system located on Moscow Mountain (north and west) or Elk Butte (south and east).  This means that the weak signal produced by your hand-held transceiver (HT) is (one hopes) picked up by the repeater and retransmitted at a much higher power.  The repeater also has a squelch circuit with the associated delay.  So, you should wait for almost a second after pushing the Transmit switch before speaking.

The radio waves emitted by the HT are about 5 feet long.  If you have difficulty receiving or transmitting, try moving the HT 2 or 3 feet.  It may significantly improve reception.

The radio channel is a scarce resource, to be conserved.  (It also takes much battery power to transmit.)  Send brief transmissions.  If Base Camp asks for your legal location and you don't know it immediately, ask them to stand by.  Once you know the information, hail Base Camp and provide your response.  When preparing to transmit, take time to plan what you will say.

Remember than there are a lot of people in this area with radio scanners.  Everything you say on the radio should be considered to be public, so conduct yourself professionally and discreetly.

When speaking, use words that are unlikely to be misunderstood: "Affirmative" for yes, and "Negative" for no.  Speak numbers as a series of digits: "Two-zero-four" rather than "two hundred and four".  And consider how difficult it is to distinguish between "fifteen" and "fifty".

Break long messages into easily copied chunks by ending a phrase with "Also".  The recipient will respond with "Go ahead" when he/she is ready to copy more information.

When calling another unit, our convention is to state the called unit number followed by your unit number.  For example, if you are in team 4, say "Base from team 4" or "Team 2 from team 4".  When called, you should acknowledge the call with your unit number and invite the caller to proceed with traffic: "This is team 4. Go ahead."

When your conversation is at an end, relinquish the radio channel by stating that you are clear: "Team 4 clear."  Both the calling and called unit should do this.  Sometimes Base Camp may signify the ending of the conversation by stating the time of day.

If you call a unit and receive no response, wait 30 seconds or so and try once more.  If there is no response, clear the channel and try again a few minutes later.  Remember that the Base Camp radio person may be communicating on another channel or with Search Managers.  If you are unsuccessful in raising the unit, try moving to another location.  If you hear another unit trying unsuccessfully to contact Base Camp and you are able to reach Base, notify Base that you have relayed traffic from another team, then repeat (preferably word for word) whatever traffic needs to be passed.

V. The Search

A. Check In and Check Out

Whenever you enter or leave a search area, make sure that you have checked in or out with the person handling this function.  You will usually be stopped as you initially reach Base Camp, but it might be less likely that you will be intercepted as you leave.  It is important that you do that so that the Search Management team can be sure that every searcher is accounted for when the search ends.  Checking in also generates information about available human resources.

PCSAR Field Guide August 2011Page 5

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