SAR Fundamentals/Search techniques/Practical


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3.25 hr

Although this material itself is 3.25 hr it's commonly combined with 1 hr Compass Practical and taught in rotating stations over 4.5 hr (one afternoon).


Locate a working area suitable for practicing search techniques. This is often an urban fringe area with bushes, trees and trails close to the training facility. In Pincher Creek, the area has been designated, see map above. Prepare directions on getting to the area if needed.

Divide the working area up into segments that are easily accessible and allow teams to walk from one to the other as they rotate between stations. Define segment boundaries. Prepare a map if needed as an aid.

Segment 1 - Type 1 search. An area of trails. Preferably with shortcuts (vehicle?) that the instructor can get ahead of the team and observe how they are doing and provide feedback. A few clues should be planted.

Segment 2 - Type 2 search. A large area of bush or trees where purposeful wandering can be performed. Sub-segments can be created for each team that rotates through, or all but the last team can be instructed to leave clues in place. A known number of clues should be planted so the students can calculate their actual POD.

Segment 3 - Type 3 search. A smaller area where a line search can be performed. This can overlap any of the other segments because it will be performed last. Clues don't normally need to be planted as there is typically enough human litter.

Segment 4 - Type 4 search. A small area set up with stakes for evidence search. Clues should be planted. Sub-segments should be created for each team that rotates through or the clues replanted between rotations.


Search techniques

  • searcher cube
  • clue awareness (see lesson plan)

Don't use term: hasty search, hasty team

Type 1 search

1 hr

Type 1: speed

  • hustle
  • look in obvious places
  • calling

Type 1 has changed a little since we first learned it. The focus is much more on speed. Getting to where the subject might be fast. Because it ends the search quickly. Because it's where they can't wait to be found later -- e.g. washed up on the water's edge. So hustle at a speed that can be maintained for the entire assignment. A fast walk, maybe even a jog. Calling. Often a trail sweep. But all members on the trail. None in the bush on the side -- that would slow them down. Typically one focusing left, one focusing right, maybe a third focusing ahead. Looking for the obvious -- "There she is! In the middle of the trail, waiting for us." If you're too thorough in a Type 1 search, you're too slow. Some groups set up deliberate hard-to-find clues when practicing Type 1 and if they're found they know the searchers are being too thorough.

We avoid calling Type 1 Searches a "Hasty Search" now because of confusion with the term Hasty Team which doesn't necessary imply Hasty Searches.

Basically it's explaining what a Type 1 search is. Then having a team run a Type 1 search along the creek trail system and through Dilmer Park (the small creek side park just east of the old water treatment plant). The organizer may have set up some clues Saturday morning.

See the map of the exercise area

Type 2 search

Type 2: efficient

  • purposeful wandering
  • critical spacing
  • sound sweep

Type 3 search

Type 3: effective

  • grid search
  • arms width apart
  • spontaneous volunteers

Type 4 search

Type 4

  • fine search

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3 min

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