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#223821 - 05/18/11 10:11 AM Search theory and SAR
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
New to me: search theory.

Puzzling my way through:

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg534/nsarc/LandSearchMethodsReview.pdf

Most interested in possible role of trackers.

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#223824 - 05/18/11 01:20 PM Re: Search theory and SAR [Re: dweste]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6082
Loc: southern Cal
In scanning your reference, I immediately noticed some familiar names, John Bownds and Thomas Harlan, faculty members at the University of Arizona and stalwart members of the Southern Arizona Rescue Association. John's expertise as a mathematician was extremely useful on many occasions; he was also excellent when it came to boots on the ground time. Tom's specialty was dendrochronology, less applicable to SAR, but he had unparalleled knowledge of our operational areas, and incredible stamina when I lived in Tucson and volunteered with SARA (1958-1985).

I am an archaeologist, not a mathematician, but I can vouch that search theory can improve and rationalize decisions in the field during operations. I haven't kept up with developments in search theory, but I am hardly surprised that they are ongoing.

John Bownds contracted Valley Fever as a result most likely of his participation in SAR, and barely pulled through. He told me once that his ambition was to live to be 40. Hobbled by the lingering effects of his illness, he had to leave the Tucson area. He did not make it past 50. His contributions to SAR were outstanding.

If you want to see what SAR was like prior to the development of any standards or procedures, get hold of a copy of [/u]Death Clouds on Mt Baldy[u] by Cathy Hufault, which details the chaotic and confused effort to find three Boy Scouts who perished in a late fall storm in the Tucson area. The unsuccessful result galvanized the community and better SAR eventually resulted.

You mention the role of trackers. Like everything else in the SAR toolkit, it can be useful, but it isn't always appropriate or relevant. I can tell of instances where it worked fabulously, and of others where it failed as a technique. i would say that dogs are, on the whole, better trackers than humans, but they are not a panacea. The wise IC will employ as many techniques as possible, as soon as possible.
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#223830 - 05/18/11 02:27 PM Re: Search theory and SAR [Re: NightHiker]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6082
Loc: southern Cal
I would agree with you - tracking is a very complex skill set. How would you define "Tracker"?
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#223842 - 05/18/11 05:38 PM Re: Search theory and SAR [Re: NightHiker]
Basecamp Offline
Member

Registered: 11/08/07
Posts: 107
Loc: PNW
A text book (binder) and "pocket" field guide in search theory and operations as used in CA were both titled "Search Is An Emergency", I believe.

These are two excellent classes, if you are a member of a team in CA:
-Direction and Control of the Search Function,
Search Management Course
-Direction and Control of the Search Function,
Winter SAR Operations Course

http://www.oes.ca.gov/Operational/OESHome.nsf/0/FC657A5F8E9F6FC888256EC10077EBC9?OpenDocument

There are some relevant book titles listed here:
http://shop.eri-online.com/category.sc?categoryId=2

Reading a book is no substitute for training or experience. Untrained searchers can complicate and delay the discovery of a lost person, at the least.


Edited by Basecamp (05/18/11 05:49 PM)

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#223855 - 05/18/11 09:02 PM Re: Search theory and SAR [Re: dweste]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
I am intrigued by the suggestions in the paper I cited for evaluating searcher effectiveness in the field as a basis for calculating various higher percentage search strategies in different types of terrain, etc. Use of standard targets, such as a blaze orange glove and a balloon-filled black 55 gallon plastic bag, placed in a standard pattern, in various weather conditions, terrains, etcetera, and then getting accurate reports of searcher detection numbers of these targets, perhaps within a fixed time versus all daylight time available, etcetera.

More specifically for trackers, standardized human foot track numbers and patterns could be developed and set out by a tracking trainer as the targets. Perhaps there could also be standardized signs other than human foot tracks, also placed in a standardized set of locations in the search area.

Following along those lines, it seems possible to evaluate searcher skill levels, the value / benefit of adding search dogs, ditto for humans trained in various tracking disciplines. This would begin to create a somewhat reliable way of grading, and providing feedback to, the personnel and animals involved.

I wonder if we are ready for this!


Edited by dweste (05/18/11 09:13 PM)

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#223875 - 05/19/11 12:36 AM Re: Search theory and SAR [Re: dweste]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6082
Loc: southern Cal
The bottom line from any of this is the role of the object of the search in aiding the effort. Aggressive, purposeful, and prolonged signalling aids searchers immensely and almost always saves valuable time, sometimes even lives.

Note the results in the 1981 exercise where all signalling subjects were located, with lower percentages of success for more passive individuals.
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