Initial Response Search Management


Statistics from past incidents show that in the UK around 95% of searches for missing persons are concluded within the first 12 hours. This time period is referred to as the Initial Response phase, and how it is managed can have an important bearing on the outcome of the entire incident.

This practical, hands-on course focuses on the needs of the individuals with the responsibility for managing the Initial Response phase of a search. The course was originally devised by The Centre for Search Research together with a group of experienced SAR practitioners from North America, who were brought together specifically for that purpose. It uses concepts that are easily understood by the non-specialist.

This course was designed to meet the needs of those people who have the responsibility for managing the Initial Response phase of a search for a missing person. The method that is taught:

  • Is practical rather than theoretical
  • Is based on a set of procedures
  • It is a logical and intuitive process
  • Is cyclical to account for new information and developments

Participants work individually. The instructors provide the necessary theory and lead the students through a series of tabletop incidents, using the manual that they wrote and the documentation that they designed. By the end of the course the students will be managing these incidents with the minimum of input from the instructors. The course lasts for one whole day.

Who is this course for?

This course is intended for people who could expect to have to manage the Initial Response phase of the search for a missing person, from either statutory or voluntary emergency services, for example

  • Police officers, Coast Guards and Civil Defence
  • Members of volunteer organisations, for example Search and Rescue teams and Mountain Rescue teams

Course structure

The course is based on the Six Step Process, which is a simple yet versatile template for managing your response to an operational problem.

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