When someone goes missing, the first few minutes and hours of the search are critical. A key to the success of search and rescue (SAR) teams is an aggressive, well-planned initial response. However, many times, first responders on scene in a missing person search don’t have the extensive training and development of initial search plans that specialized SAR teams have. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group recently released a mobile app, developed with the support of SAR teams around the nation, that provides step-by-step instructions on search plans for first responders and response teams. It provides search guidance, protocols and strategies used by SAR teams around the nation.
The Lost Person Behavior mobile app was released this spring and is available to download (for a fee) from Apple iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.com. Since its release, the app has received two-five star reviews from the APCO International Application Community and has been used in actual SAR operations in Virginia. The app provides guidance, tactical briefings, investigative questions, and statistics for over 40 different scenarios. These include lost hikers, hunters, children, missing vehicles, despondent individuals, dementia patients, and climbers. It also provides guidance for snow and water incidents. These protocols are currently used by our ILEAS partners of the Illinois Search and Rescue Council.