2002 1st Special Response Group.
All rights reserved.

The following documents represent materials that we felt are of general interest to the search and rescue community. They represent the thoughts of the author and any redistribution of the materials should include the author's name. The inclusion of an article in this section does not represent an endorsement of the article by 1SRG or of 1SRG by the author.

Check back periodically as we add new materials to this area.

  1. Investigation and Interviewing Techniques
  2. Proposed new T-cards
  3. Mock search materials
  4. Medical equipment lists
  5. Pack lists
  6. Tree rescue
  7. Wilderness Spirit
  8. K9 Helitac
  9. K9 Helitac PowerPoint
  10. Introduction to Avalanche Dogs
  11. How To Avoid Getting Lost
  12. What To Do If Lost
  13. Helicopter Risk "Continuum"
  14. Helicopter FOG Cards
  15. Helicopter Use Calculations and Decisions

Investigation and Interviewing Techniques for Search and Rescue Responders

By Christopher S. Young

The full paper is here in PDF format.

What follows is the overview section..

The best way to find a missing person in the wilderness or urban environment is not to
send out an armada of search teams and personnel hoping to find clues, but to place
heavy emphasis on the initial investigation and then prepare a search plan that focuses on
places the subject would likely be found. Information on where to look can best be
obtained from good investigation. Build a profile of the missing subject in your mind as if
he or she is someone you already know. Get to know whom their family, friends,
business associates or schoolmates are in order to understand the missing subject. That
way you can better plan what the missing subject will do in a particular situation. You
may find that the initial call that came in as a possible child abduction is determined later,
through investigation, to be a runaway or a case of the child forgetting to call home.

Investigation as used in a search context, is the continual process of gathering
information about the missing subject and the circumstances under which he or she is
missing, including interviewing persons who have pertinent knowledge of the subject.
This process commences with the first report of the missing subject and is completed at
the end of the search operation. It includes the interview with the subject after he or she is
found, to determine what happened.

Besides usefulness in search planning, investigation gathers historical and statistical
information, which can be useful in future, searches for similar subjects. The
investigation report should include post-search information on the effectiveness of the
resources utilized in locating the missing subject. The complete report of the
investigation and the management of the search incident can later be incorporated into a
training exercise.


New T-Card

Chris Boyer of Contra Costa Sheriff's SAR developed a new version of the popular T-card. This form provides more options for specifying the type of resource and has three assignment blocks so you can track the resource from assignment to assignment via this card.

There are two versions of the card, PDF and Visio. The Visio version is so you can modify it to suit your own needs. Please give credit to Chris Boyer if you distribute modifications of his version.

If anyone knows how to get a batch of these printed up on the appropriate card stock, please let me know and I'll see about running off a batch of them for sale at cost.

Mock Search Materials

A collection of materials for running a mock search.

  1. A sample scenario.
  2. A set of admin orders.
  3. A results sheet for the admin orders.

The admin orders are designed to add some variability to the scenario. You should cut the admin orders up into individual cards and hand them out to the teams going out into the field. The first part of the ID string is the date of the scenario. The second number is the ID number of the order, cross referenced with the Excel results sheet. The third number is the time the event occurs.

If you have a group overseeing the scenario, they can call the team and tell them what event occured based on the master results sheet. If the scenario is running itself then the teams are responsible for checking their cards at the appropriate time. In either case, the team should take some action and the results should be logged.

This is rather artificial but it gives you some idea of how you can make the situation more interesting.

Medical equipment list

This spreadsheet details the individual, field team, and full team medical equipment lists for 1SRG.


Tree Rescue

Research into training for and reports of rescuing subjects from trees.

Pack Lists

The question of what equipment to carry for SAR and how to pack it comes up with some regularity on various discussion groups. The following represent some of the better collections.

Walter Picket's Equipment, Pack, and Preparedness Articles. (or in a PDF Version)

Rick LaValla and ERI's Equipment List

California Explorer Search and Rescue - 18,36, and 72 Hour Packs

Robert Weisman's 24 Hour Gear List (scroll down to specific article)

Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association equipment lists - personal, team, medical, etc. Very complete.

A compilation of 20 SAR organization's 24 Hour Pack Lists.

Between the 20 lists, there were a total of 100 items. Only 6 items appeared on all 20 lists, and only 3 of those items were required by all the groups. So much for the "10 Essentials." No list had all 100 items.

The lists were compiled during the writing of ASTM F2209 "Standard Guide for Training of a Level I Land Search Team Member." The standard does not contain a mandatory list of equipment, but provides this list as guidance for an individual or organization.

Mike McDonald
F32.02 Subcommittee on Operations and Management
(of the ASTM F-32 Committee on Search and Rescue) mgmcd@comcast.net

Wilderness and Spirit - Willi Unsoeld (PFD file)

November 7, 1974; Graduating Park Ranger Class; Albright, Grand Canyon

Editor’s note, August 2003;
This presentation was made before Willi’s daughter’s untimely death, Nanda Devi, while with him on the Nepalese mountain of the same name in 1976, and before Willi’s death in 1979 on Rainier in an avalanche. At least 2 books have been written about the Nanda Devi expedition (“Nanda Devi, Tragic Expedition”, “Fatal Mountaineer”). Truly a great sadness and end to Nanda Devi and Willi’s lives, both which have sadly offset his otherwise admirable philosophy of the gift of the outdoors.

This article is a transcription of Willi’s presentation from a CD generously given by Jolene Unsoeld. To hear it on CD is to hear it in its true context, with all the joy and concern and passion of Willi. This CD and another by Willi, his speech with Tom Hornbein to the Mountain Rescue Council in 1969, called “The Philosophy of Mountain Rescue”, are available via request to tkovacs@cox.net and I will arrange for a copy from the Unsoeld family. To those who simply do not know, Willi and Tom Hornbein made the first ascent of Mt. Everest via the difficult West Ridge, in the winter of 1963 – Tim Kovacs.

K-9 Helitac - Nicholas J. Razum

A superb presentation on K9's and helicopters and how they can safely work together. I used to have the documents on this site, but Nick has developed his own site so I suggest you simply check it out - www.helitac.net

Nick also has a lot of other K9 related educational materials here. Definitely worth reading through, even if you're not a K9 handler.

Power Point presentation - David C. Kovar

Lisa Lee and I developed a Power Point presentation based on Nick's K-9 Helitac article which you can retrieve via this link: Power Point Presentation

The presentation is designed to be a pre-requisite for canine hot load training and we strongly recommend conducting cold loads first, then hot loads.

There are two parts to the presentation. The Intro runs while before class to give people some background on helicopter safety and the main presenation is used for the actual course.


Tim Kovacs of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Mountain Rescue/Central Arizona Mountain Rescue provided three documents covering the decision making process for employing helicopters in search and rescue.

Introduction to Avalanche Dogs - Kim Gilmore

Word format or HTML (Web Page)

How to Avoid Getting Lost - Hal Lillywhite

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What to do if Lost - Hal Lillywhite

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