SAR Fundamentals/Lost person behaviour


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[edit] Authors

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[edit] Scope

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SAR Fundamentals Manual:
  • Ch.21 "Lost Person Behavior"
  • Appendix F "Lost Person Questionnaire"
Basic SAR Skills Manual: Ch.14 "Lost Person Behavior"
Lost person Questionnaire w/exercise

[edit] Prerequisites

What should students already know/have accomplished before the lesson is presented.

[edit] Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson the participants:

  1. will be able to ...

[edit] Time Plan

Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 2006-09: 40 min
  • 2013-02: 48 min

should cut down

Time Material


3 min

Introduce topic title

  • SAR Fundamentals chapter 21[3] or FOG SAR chapters 14[1]

Introduce Instructor

Present Objectives

Distribute lost person questionnaire


2 min

slide 270
slide 270

Why analyse lost person behaviour?

  • Helps refine search urgency / survivability profile
  • Helps know where to look first
  • Helps searchers know what terrain features to concentrate on
  • Helps searchers recognize clues
  • Helps decided how to attract subject
  • Helps determine how to interact with found subject


3 min

slide 271
slide 271

What information is needed?

  • Where, what direction is subject likely to head?
  • How far are they likely to travel?
  • How are they likely to have acted prior to their trouble?
  • How are they likely to act when once they realize their trouble?
  • How will they interact with each other?
  • How will they respond to search activities?
  • How knowledgeable are they of this environment?
  • How skilled are they in this environment?


3 min

Sources of information

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Colleagues / Co-workers
  • Doctor, medical professionals
  • Police
  • Activity experts
  • Area experts
  • Statistics: general, local

Often conflicting


3 min

slide 272
slide 272


What statistical categories can say

  • Range of distances from IPP where found
  • Variance from intended direction
  • Features often found in association with
  • Objects / features that attract
  • Typical root cause of trouble
  • Strategies used to get out of trouble
  • Reactions to searchers
  • Survival rates over time


1 min

Major categories

There are lots of different categories.

More information than can be memorized.

Overhead team uses reference books and charts to collate this information.

Skim over slides. Show some highlights.

  • Children age 1-6
  • Children age 7-12
  • Youth age 13-15
  • Despondents
  • Psychotics
  • Mentally retarded
  • Alzheimer's
  • Hunters
  • Fishermen
  • Hikers
  • Mountain Bikers
  • Cross Country Skiers
  • Off Highway Vehicle Users
  • Miscellaneous Adults


4 min

Example: Children 1-6

slide 274
slide 275
slide 276


4 min

Example: Alzheimer sufferers

slide 293
slide 294
slide 295
slide 296


3 min

slide 304
slide 305
slide 306


1 min

Search team briefings

  • Not usually available for first assignment
  • Areas to focus on
  • Activities to watch for
  • How to approach


2 min

slide 273
slide 273

Search strategies

  • Put yourself in subjects shoes, mindset, look through their eyes
  • Look at things from their height
  • What would attract you?
  • What would you do?
  • Use 2 examples from powerpoint slides


1 min

Family liaison

  • Frequent role
  • Understand family dynamic
  • Get complete story
  • Past incidents
  • Complete lost person questionnaire


1 min

Overhead team support

  • Compile behaviour information
  • Summarize on briefining information



[edit] Aids

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[edit] Question bank

List of questions suitable for an review/exam of this section.

See Question bank

[edit] Frequently Asked Questions

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[edit] Feedback

When has this lesson been presented. What was the feedback.

  • 2006-09-16 Wuth presentation at PCSAR SAR Fundamentals
  • 2015-03-07 Wuth presentation at PCSAR/LASARA SAR Fundamentals

[edit] License

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Original content copyright © 2006-2013, Brett Wuth.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

[edit] Reference Material

If you need to cite sources, do so here.

  • [1] SAR Skills Handbook: FOG SAR, Field Operating Guide To Search and Rescue, Richard Smith et al., (c) ERI Canada et al., 2003, first edition, ISBN 0-9734135-0-6, chapter 14
  • [2] some material from Jake Waiboer developed for this section, provided personally.
  • [3] Search and Rescue Fundamentals: Basic Skills and Knowledge to Perform Wilderness, Inland, Search and Rescue, D. Cooper et al., 3rd Edition, revised., (c) 1996 Emergency Response Institute, Inc. et al., ISBN 0-913724-37-8, chapters 21
  • [4] Overhead slides distributed for [3]
  • [5] Instructor's Outline for Search and Rescue Fundamentals, Draft only for Provisional Use, Donald C. Cooper, Emergency Response Institude, Inc., and National Rescue Consultants, Inc., 4537 Foxhall Drive, N.E., Olympia, WA 98506, pg 141-144
  • [6] "SAR SKILLS V1.ppt" Powerpoint presentation distributed for [1]. dated Feb 8, 2005, size: 29,540,352, slides 269-322

[edit] To Do

  • Reorganize slides to match presentation order
  • Develop case studies

[edit] Notes

Any additional notes, etc.

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