Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best.

by Dana McGuire

Search And Rescue is a volunteer job. But it's still a job. As un-paid, professionals we strive to bring high standards, training and efficiency to SAR.

There is no room for laziness, ego or training during a SAR incident. Helping comes from the heart, and you have to be focused on the job at hand. The more well trained, prepared and focused you are, the better the potential outcome will be for the victim you're searching for. If you let other peripheral things come in way, you will lose sight of your goal.

Trained resources will know prior to entering an area what their goal is, the hazards they may face and the resources at hand that they may call upon. They will know that their teammates are trained to the same level as themselves and each will depend on the other to make up for areas they make lack in. They will have communication lines open at all times with each other and be able to quickly and succinctly deliver and receive ideas and messages to facilitate their tasks. They will have one clear, defined leader that is the main contact for the personnel in charge of the incident. That person will be able to communicate the needs of the team so as to make them more efficient. They will know that can depend on their leader and he/she on them.

And an incident is not an individual's place to exist. It's made up of individuals, that should have trained, now be prepared to act, as a team. This will allow for smooth, well thought out pre-planning to come to bear upon the task at hand.

The saying goes that, the best battle plans fall apart when the first shot is fired. While this may hold true every time we are called to a scene, there is nothing we can do to prevent it. Situations WILL arise that are out of our control. Earthquakes, tornados, secondary explosions, shifting/settling ground, sinkholes, whatever, it's up to how we've planned and prepared for such things that will dictate our reaction to them.

If you go over in your mind what is POSSIBLE, then you cover all your bases but will spend so much time on every tangible scenario that you may still be planning when an incident happens. If you focus your efforts on the PROBABLE, you may still have a lot of work ahead of you, but you will be effectively eliminating some chaos down the line.

Accordingly, SAR events use probability to eliminate where a lost person is NOT. This narrows down the area for where that subject PROBABLY is. This is not by accident. It is a scientific, logical look at playing the odds. It allows the IC Management the ability to place their individual resources into the field in an organized and effective manner, without wasting time, space or people.

© 2007 Dana McGuire

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