Search & Rescue Methods & Tactics

Purpose: Modern search & rescue operations focus on quickly finding and transporting the lost or missing person. To do this, ground teams must be fully trained and already know their jobs and duties. This course introduces the student to these techniques through lecture and actual operations in the field. Upon completion, the student will be proficient in modern search and rescue techniques, and be able to perform them upon request without assistance.

Format: Full weekend course, with lectures and outdoor activities, including overnight camping.

Skills emphasized: Preliminary ("Hasty") search techniques; grid lines; critical separation; evidence searches; man tracking; search team duties & composition; types of assignments; night time techniques; sign cutting; radio protocol; briefings & debriefings; lost person profiles; safety issues; basics of the Incident Command System (ICS); packaging, evacuation & transport of the injured person.

Prerequisites: Outdoor Skills

Note: The Associate Member program consists of the following courses: Outdoor Skills, Introduction to Wilderness Navigation, Standard First Aid and CPR SAR Tactics The Training Staff can often substitute similar courses taught by other agencies upon pre-approval.

When & Where:

Date: Saturday-Sunday November 8-9 2008
Time: Saturday 08:00 to 16:00 Sunday
Henry W. Coe State Park
Friends of the Park Page
Official Home Page
9000 East Dunne Ave.
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Phone: (408)779-7728
(Use 7974 E. Dunne Ave for purposes of getting to the Park Entrance via Google Maps)

Some sort of park day-use fee may be required, details are still being finalized with the Park

Weather Information
Weather information below is for Morgan Hill

Getting There:
Use the gadget below to get you to the approximate location; the address in the box differs from the official address, but it will get you closer to where you want to be.  When you get close, watch for the signs for the park, and go to the Parking Lot at the Main Entrance.  Watch for Cal-ESAR signs!  Look at the satellite view and street view for more details.

Trail Map

More information on the park, its trails and the surrounding area is available at the Bay Area Hiker site.

There are also lots of  topo maps of the area.

Required Gear:  At your Skills Evaluation in May, you will be required to have a 72 Hour Pack with a long list of mandatory contents. The contents are divided in to various kits for simplicity and organizational purposes. As the training season progresses, new items and kits will be added to the repertoire of gear essentials for each course. The general idea is to build yourself a collection supplies as you proceed through training so that by the time Skills. Evaluation rolls around, you’ll already have everything that you need to fulfill the content requirements of the 72 Hour Pack. Here are the kits required for SAR Skills. Everyone will need to have their own kit items for the training weekend, with the exception of stoves and cooking utensils that may be shared or borrowed until Skills Evaluation. Borrow what you can right now. You won’t be required to own all of these items until May.

Shelter Kit
Tarp (8’X10’)
Ground Cloth (5’X7’)
Parachute Cord (50’)
8 Aluminum Tent Stakes 
(You should gave most of this from Outdoor Skills)

Fire Kit

Storm Proof Matches
Fire Starter Pellets
Emergency Tinder

Sleep Kit

Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Pad
Socks (1 pair)
T-Shirt & Underwear

36 Hour Food Kit

1 Hot Breakfast
2 Non-Cook Lunches
1 Hot Dinner
4 Snacks
Fuel Bottle/Canister*
Cook Pots*
2 Liters of Water

* Hot water will be provided for SAR Skills, but if you want to actually cook something, you’ll need a stove.  If you can’t get a stove, bring the kind of items  we discussed at Outdoor Skills that will let you cook in a microwave steamer bag.  Don't forget to bring some para cord for your Bear Bag/Critter Sack.


*Grid Tape / Flagging (we'll provide the first roll)
Tape Measure (36" sewing tape is fine)
*Tracking Stick (see the demo first, bring an old ski pole or other hiking stick if you already own one.)
Log Book / Notebook

Personal Items

Day Pack
Knee Pads (construction style or roller blade style)
Leather Gloves
Rain Gear (check weather)
Sturdy Pants 
Sturdy Shoes / Boots
Warm Clothes / Jacket
Toiletries / Medications
Chapstick & Sunscreen
Warm Hat/Scarf/Mittens 

Murphy Kit

Spare Batteries (AA)
Light Bulbs (If you don't have an LED light)
Sewing Kit (nothing fancy, see examples)
Socks & Underwear
Ziploc / Garbage Bags

Many of these kits can be packed into Ziploc Bags (sandwich or freezer). Obviously, you won’t need to put your tarp and sleeping bag in a kit bag, but do try to keep the smaller items in the kits together in one place so they’re easy to locate and keep track of. You can label the bags with tape and a marker and they’re super cheap to replace if they get damaged. They’re also water proof!
So, where are you supposed to get all of this stuff? Most of it can be found at REI. Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Sport Mart, Big 5, Any Mountain and Target are good places to find everything else. If you have trouble finding something, or don’t know what it is, just ask a trained member or Course Director.  Please don’t feel like you have to go out and buy all of this stuff right now. It is perfectly fine to borrow the more expensive items for the time being. Pricey meals and snacks can be purchased at REI.   Consult the food list from Outdoor Skills on how to shop cheaper at your local grocery store using meals that cook in 5 minutes and under and allow you to use steamer bags.

Course Reading Material