To pick up where we left off… MSAR members are alerted to an emergency, arrive on scene and sign in.
At the search base, which may be in a field, at a fire department, or even in the front yard of the missing person’s house, trained searchers coordinate with groups such as law enforcement, fire department, EMS, and local volunteers to carry out the search effort. Some members may join the Incident Staff, but most want to be deployed into the field.
There are many jobs to be done at base, for those trained in incident staff and for those willing to learn. Incident staff must make plans to consider the missing person(s), their state of mind, the terrain, the weather, and a number of other factors necessary to lead teams to the right search area. Incident staff must also be mindful of safety for all searchers, arrange finances and logistics to support the mission, and work with the public and the press.
Those who want be utilized in the field must be assigned to a search task. There are many types of tasks (that I will talk about in a later blog entry) but more often than not, 4-6 team members will be tasked to search an area of woods or down a trail.
If a person is found, they may require medical assistance and/or evacuation depending on the type of incident that has occurred. Most MSAR search team members have some sort of medical training (often with the added wilderness protocols); (Wilderness) First aid, (Wilderness) First Responder, and (Wilderness) EMT. MSAR is also prepared for both manual "carry outs," semi-tech and technical rescue, and assisting with aerial helicopter-based rescues.
After the task is over, searchers return to base and must decide on their next move. Some will be immediately retasked, some will need time to eat and sleep, and the rest will be done for the day. Most searches wrap up within a few days, but can go on for extended periods of time. As volunteers, MSAR members may assist for as long as they wish.