Words and terminology used in search and rescue

SAR Terms
General Terms A - M
Attraction Search
Search based on the idea that the victim is alive, willing to be found and will, upon hearing or seeing signs of rescue, make them self and their position known
Bastard Search
A search in which, for one reason or another and unknown to the searchers, there is no subject, as the subject is elsewhere rather than in the search area.
Briefing
A meeting before a search in which information is disclosed to the search teams in order to initiate and properly execute the search.
CAP
Civil Air Patrol
Confinement Search
Also a containment measure. Search in which the object is to confine the subject to a specific area.
Compass
A device that indicates northerly direction based on the needle pointing at the nearest magnetic core.
Consequence Management
The response to a disaster, focusing on alleviating damage, loss, hardship or suffering.
Crisis Management
Measures to identify, acquire, and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent, and/or resolve a threat or act.
Critical Incident Stress
Problems that can arise as a result of an over taxing situation, such as a major disaster event.
DART
Downed Aircraft Rescue Transmitter ALSO Disaster Assistance Response Team
Debriefing
a meeting after a search or after a team has been called in, in which all information found is disclosed and where suggestions can be made for the future
EOC
Emergency Operations Center
FLIR
Forward Looking Infrared - A thermal imaging device designed to be aircraft mounted, usually on a helicopter, that can detect heat sources at night. Useful in locating persons on foot, in concealed vehicles, aircraft wreckage, and other heat sources
GPS
Ground Positioning System - Based upon satellites, this small computer will give exact locations using latitude and longitude.
Grid Search
All searchers move forward on a line. They are spaced closely together. This search is slow and methodical and takes a lot of time.
Hasty Search
A search whose purpose is to cover the most obvious places a subject might be in the least time possible. Usually the first kind of search tactic to be utilized.
HazMat
Hazardous Materials
ICS
Incident Command System is used by all levels of government?봣ederal, state, tribal and local?봞s well as by many nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. ICS is also applicable across disciplines. It is typically structured to facilitate activities in five major functional areas: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics and Finance/Administration. All of the functional areas may or may not be used based on the incident needs. Intelligence/Investigations is an optional sixth functional area that is activated on a case-by-case basis.
Incident
An occurrence or event, either human caused or natural phenomena, that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and or natural resources.
Incident Command Post
That location at which the primary command functions are executed.
Incident Commander
The individual responsible for the management of all incident operations.
IPP
Initial Planning Point
LKP
Last Known Position - The last known location for the missing subject as determined by physical evidence such as a discarded object or a footprint. In the case of an aircraft, the LKP may be the last reported point or the last observed radar position.
Legal Responsible Authority
The official and/or agency having legal responsibility for the emergency response to a SAR incident.
Local SAR Coordinator
The person responsible for coordination of SAR operations within a given jurisdiction.
Mission
A specific incident such as a search and rescue operation.
Mission Coordinator
The person designated by the legal responsible authority to coordinate and manage on-scene operations during a specific SAR incident. Depending upon the management system used and the organizations involved, this person may be called the Mission Coordinator, On-Scene Commander or Incident Commander.
Mock Search
Staged training that is set up to approximate as closely as possible, a real search effort.
Mounted Team
One rider and one horse.
MSO
Manager of Search Operations - See "Search Manager".
Mutual Aid Search
A search that is too large scale to be handled by one organization. One or more organizations or groups outside the initial group are called in to assist in the effort

SAR Terms
General Terms N-Z
NOAA
Search based on the idea that the victim is alive, willing to be found and will, upon hearing or seeing signs of rescue, make them self and their position known
Overhead Team
A highly trained, quick response SAR management team that can respond to assist with search planning, coordination and operations. The overhead team usually consists of a search manager and one or two assistants.
Perimeter Search
A search of an outside line that is believed to be across the direction of travel of the subject. The object is to cut the trail and find tracks or other evidence of the subject being there.
Plan of Action
A written document that consolidates all of the operational actions to be taken by various personnel in order to stabilize the incident.
PLB - Personal Locator Beacon
The personal version of the "ELT" designed to be carried by a person on foot. It is manually activated.
PLS - Point (or Place) Last Seen
The location where the missing subject was actually seen by another person.
POD or PD - Probability of Detection
The percentage of probability that if a subject was actually in the search area that the subject would have been located (detected) by the search effort
POS or PS
Probability of Success.
Resources
All personnel and major items of equipment available, or potentially available, for assignment to incident tasks on which status is maintained.
Rural SAR
A search and rescue mission conducted in an area often given to farming or to woodland and is usually sparsely to moderately populated.
SAR
Search and Rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.
SAR Emergency
Any SAR incident, whether related to any other type of incident or not, that requires the utilization of resources to resolve, due to the threat or potential threat to human life.
Search Manager
Also known as "MSO" for Manager of Search Operations or "MSF" for Manager of the Search Function or "MSI" for Managing the Search Incident.
Sound Sweep Search
An attraction search in which all searchers call out, whistle or make some other sound at a prescribed time and then are all quiet and listening for an answer during a second prescribed time.
Staging Area
That location where incident personnel and equipment are assigned.
Strike Team
Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common communication and a leader.
Task Force
A group of resources with common communications and a leader temporarily assembled for a specific mission.
Topographical Map (Topo Map)
A map used for search (usually 1:24,000) which shows physical features of a region and allows a certified search manager to deploy resources accordingly
Tracker
An individual who can detect and follow signs of human passage.
Unit
A group of single SAR resources existing for the purpose of SAR training and operations and demonstrating or providing documentation of the following

 

  1. Unit organizational structure.
  2. Unit standards and the date they were accepted.
  3. List of unit members and their status, i.e. operational, training, inactive, etc.
  4. Documentation of past training.
  5. Provisions for ongoing training.
  6. Records of responses to actual searches, if any.
Unified Command
A method for all agencies or individuals who have jurisdictional responsibility at the incident, to contribute to determining overall objectives for the incident and selection of a strategy to achieve the objectives.
Urban SAR
A search and rescue mission conducted in moderately to heavily populated areas given primarily to business and residential development.
Water search
Search for humans who are under water, such as a drowning victim.
Wilderness SAR
A search and rescue mission conducted in an area generally uncultivated and uninhabited and often inaccessible by roads
WMD
Weapons of Mass Destruction

K9
Terms used by K9 Teams
Air Scent Canine
A search dog that will detect airborne human scent.
Alert
Term used for physical signs a canine or horse gives when they are interested in something. Canines may alert by barking, horses may alert by placing their ears forward, distending their nostrils, focusing their eyes, stopping forward movement, etc.
ARDA
American Rescue Dog Association
Bloodhound
A search dog that is remarkable for its keen sense of smell and often used as tracking/trailing canines.
Contaminated area
An area containing air or ground scents of persons other that the victim
Dog Team
One handler and one canine.
Handler
The person who controls and directs a canine during a search. This person is usually, but does not have to be, the owner or trainer of the canine
Scent article
An item belonging to the search subject, preferably clothing, that holds the subject's scent and that has not been contaminated by the scent(s) of other people.
Tracking Canine
A search dog that will follow the ground scent of a person who has passed through an area in which the dog is searching.
Trailing Canine
A search dog that will follow the scent trail of a specific individual, after the dog has been allowed to smell an article or object that has been in contact with that individual. The trailing dog is scent discriminating (the ability to distinguish the scent of one person and follow it).

Tech Terms
Terms used during technical situations
Ascender
Mechanical device (clamps) utilized by high angle rescue teams, that allows the flow of rope to be controlled in a specific direction (usually upward).
Belay
Term used by high/low angle rescue teams, for the act of one person controlling the descent of another person or object
Bowline
One of the more common fixed loop knots utilized in rescue situations
Carabiner
A device utilized extensively by high/low angle rescue teams. It is usually a "D" shaped type of metal link that opens on one side to insert rope or webbing
Caving
the art of being able to navigate through caves usually for recreational purposes, but may be for rescue purposes
Figure 8
One of the more common knots utilized in search and rescue operations, especially within the high angle/rappelling unit.
Gibbs
A specific type of rescue ascender
High Angle
A term used by rappelling teams. Its specific indication is usually anything over 45 degrees.
Low Angler
anything under 45 degrees
Mountaineering
the art of mountain climbing usually for recreational purposes, but may be for rescue purposes
Night Vision
A monocular or binocular piece of equipment that allows you to see in near total darkness by intensifying existing light. It may also be utilized in total darkness with an infrared attachment. Night vision is very useful for search and rescue missions.
Prusik
A friction or ascending knot commonly used in belaying and climbing. Originally known as a Magnus Hitch
Rappel
to descend a rope at a safe controlled speed.
Webbing
flat nylon strap used for various rescue situations, especially in high and low angle rescue missions.

Medical Terms
Medical Terms
Burnout
Mental and emotional problems that occur soon after or even during a stressful incident or series of incidents.
D.O.
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
EMS
Emergency Medical Service
EMT
Emergency Medical Technician.
Heat Exhaustion
a heat related condition in which the victim shows elevated temperature, poor heart action, clammy skin, cramping and dizziness. It is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperature.
Heat Stroke
a heat related condition which is serious and life threatening. The victim will show rapid pulse, no sweating, and hot skin. It is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperature.
Hypothermia
A generalized cooling that may lower the body temperature below normal.
Litter
A stretcher like device utilized in rescue to transport a victim.
M.D.
Medical Doctor
Post Traumatic Stress/Shock
Problems that arise after a critical incident that can be long lasting. Search Managers, Team Leaders, etc., should know the signs and symptoms and be alert to the well-being of every team member
Sizeup
The rapid mental evaluation of the factors that influence an incident. Sizeup is the first step in determining a course of action.
Space Blanket
Emergency blanket that looks a lot like foil. This thin, lite blanket keeps the body heat in.
Toxic Materials
A type of chemical that can cause chemical harm at an incident scene. They produce harmful effects depending on the concentration of the materials and the length of exposure to them. An individual can have chronic or acute exposures to toxic materials
Triage
Sorting out the wounded at a major incident so that the most serious cases are treated first.
Wilderness Medicine
The administration of first aid and medical protocols for emergency's where support is not immediately forthcoming. This type of "first aid" may differ significantly from standard first aid
Wind Chill
the temperature when the temperature is lowered by the speed or gusts of wind to create an actual temperature that one would feel against the body.

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SAR Terms
General Terms A - M
Attraction Search
Search based on the idea that the victim is alive, willing to be found and will, upon hearing or seeing signs of rescue, make them self and their position known
Bastard Search
A search in which, for one reason or another and unknown to the searchers, there is no subject, as the subject is elsewhere rather than in the search area.
Briefing
A meeting before a search in which information is disclosed to the search teams in order to initiate and properly execute the search.
CAP
Civil Air Patrol
Confinement Search
Also a containment measure. Search in which the object is to confine the subject to a specific area.
Compass
A device that indicates northerly direction based on the needle pointing at the nearest magnetic core.
Consequence Management
The response to a disaster, focusing on alleviating damage, loss, hardship or suffering.
Crisis Management
Measures to identify, acquire, and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent, and/or resolve a threat or act.
Critical Incident Stress
Problems that can arise as a result of an over taxing situation, such as a major disaster event.
DART
Downed Aircraft Rescue Transmitter ALSO Disaster Assistance Response Team
Debriefing
a meeting after a search or after a team has been called in, in which all information found is disclosed and where suggestions can be made for the future
EOC
Emergency Operations Center
FLIR
Forward Looking Infrared - A thermal imaging device designed to be aircraft mounted, usually on a helicopter, that can detect heat sources at night. Useful in locating persons on foot, in concealed vehicles, aircraft wreckage, and other heat sources
GPS
Ground Positioning System - Based upon satellites, this small computer will give exact locations using latitude and longitude.
Grid Search
All searchers move forward on a line. They are spaced closely together. This search is slow and methodical and takes a lot of time.
Hasty Search
A search whose purpose is to cover the most obvious places a subject might be in the least time possible. Usually the first kind of search tactic to be utilized.
HazMat
Hazardous Materials
ICS
Incident Command System is used by all levels of government?봣ederal, state, tribal and local?봞s well as by many nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. ICS is also applicable across disciplines. It is typically structured to facilitate activities in five major functional areas: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics and Finance/Administration. All of the functional areas may or may not be used based on the incident needs. Intelligence/Investigations is an optional sixth functional area that is activated on a case-by-case basis.
Incident
An occurrence or event, either human caused or natural phenomena, that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and or natural resources.
Incident Command Post
That location at which the primary command functions are executed.
Incident Commander
The individual responsible for the management of all incident operations.
IPP
Initial Planning Point
LKP
Last Known Position - The last known location for the missing subject as determined by physical evidence such as a discarded object or a footprint. In the case of an aircraft, the LKP may be the last reported point or the last observed radar position.
Legal Responsible Authority
The official and/or agency having legal responsibility for the emergency response to a SAR incident.
Local SAR Coordinator
The person responsible for coordination of SAR operations within a given jurisdiction.
Mission
A specific incident such as a search and rescue operation.
Mission Coordinator
The person designated by the legal responsible authority to coordinate and manage on-scene operations during a specific SAR incident. Depending upon the management system used and the organizations involved, this person may be called the Mission Coordinator, On-Scene Commander or Incident Commander.
Mock Search
Staged training that is set up to approximate as closely as possible, a real search effort.
Mounted Team
One rider and one horse.
MSO
Manager of Search Operations - See "Search Manager".
Mutual Aid Search
A search that is too large scale to be handled by one organization. One or more organizations or groups outside the initial group are called in to assist in the effort

SAR Terms
General Terms N-Z
NOAA
Search based on the idea that the victim is alive, willing to be found and will, upon hearing or seeing signs of rescue, make them self and their position known
Overhead Team
A highly trained, quick response SAR management team that can respond to assist with search planning, coordination and operations. The overhead team usually consists of a search manager and one or two assistants.
Perimeter Search
A search of an outside line that is believed to be across the direction of travel of the subject. The object is to cut the trail and find tracks or other evidence of the subject being there.
Plan of Action
A written document that consolidates all of the operational actions to be taken by various personnel in order to stabilize the incident.
PLB - Personal Locator Beacon
The personal version of the "ELT" designed to be carried by a person on foot. It is manually activated.
PLS - Point (or Place) Last Seen
The location where the missing subject was actually seen by another person.
POD or PD - Probability of Detection
The percentage of probability that

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