Standard Operating Procedures wg template sop structure as of 28. 05. 2010

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2.13 The Search and Rescue Protocol


Flood incidents may result in people being reported as missing, lost or information about their whereabouts may be less than precise. Although the Police have a responsibility to manage missing person incidents they will often have to engage other agencies to assist with the investigation, management and conduct of search operations.

2.13.1Categories of Missing Persons in the Flood Environment

In the water and flood environment missing people will usually be considered as high risk missing persons. If a person is deemed as lost then the risk associated with them may be less from a management perspective but each incident will require careful consideration as their circumstances may be rapidly changing.

2.13.2 Missing – event witnessed

This category of missing persons is related to an event with a person or persons that are seen to not reach a point of sanctuary. Typically these events will be considered as high risk events for the missing person (and potentially for any search and rescue asset). For example:
An individual who was witnessed being swept away in a water flow or a car that was seen to be washed away when driving through a water flow.

2.13.3 Missing – unaccounted for

This category of missing person/persons is associated with information that suggests a person should be found in particular location but for some reason they are not there or cannot be confirmed as being there.

  • This type of missing person may occur their own actions, such as leaving home to make their way to another location and they fail to arrive, or

  • be as the result of infrastructure failure such as telephone system failures which leads to an inability to contact people who may be stranded in difficult to access locations.

2.13.4 Lost

These are people or persons in a location of relative safety but not currently aware of their precise location or unable to provide it. Some effort is required to determine where they are to then effect a rescue or evacuation

2.14 Types of Searches in the Flood Environment

  • Recon

Rapid search about developing intelligence to inform where to search, enhancing the COP, direct to mobile uninjured to reception centres, no rescue.

  • Hasty Search

Quick search, identify location with easy to find casualties, very simple extrication. Call in resources to provide rescue response

  • Primary Search

House to house activities shout and simple look for casualties, collection of intelligence such as number of people in building, needs assessment, call in rescue support if required

  • Secondary Search – Low Coverage

Movement of debris in buildings, clearing street debris to find victims, detailed search of debris in areas away from human habitation to find missing persons.

  • Secondary Search – High Coverage

Full entry in to all parts of building with removal of debris – no further search activity to be conducted on completion. Removal of all debris from areas with human habitation. Extensive search of other debris (move from one location to another) to ensure high coverage of search.

2.15 Command and Control Considerations for Search

OC will clearly identify the search and rescue priorities. Search related tasks will be specified by tactical command via the SAR cell. These will be based on information that is received by them from variety of sources, but emergency calls are expected to be the primary source of information.

2.16 Communications

Search often requires teams to operate in locations that will be relatively remote from command and control centres. Good communications is essential to ensure:

  • Team safety

  • Reporting ability to enable other resources to be mobilised to support rescue or evacuation operations.

2.17 Area(s) of Operations (AOO)

This is the geographic area that contains all active operations or reports. The AOO can be sub-divided into segments to indicate areas of responsibility, areas for tasks or administration. Intelligence reports will contribute to defining the AOO and the development of a Common Operational Picture (COP)

Segments are areas that have boundaries used to identify smaller tracts of the AOO. Segments are about where to conduct tasks. A segment can contain multiple sectors or it can contain one sector. Resources can be allocated to segments to achieve tasks. It would be expected that Tactical Command would be responsible determining which segments are going to be prioritised (Use a proportion based consensus perhaps?).

Sectors are about how to conduct tasks. It will have a Sector Commander.

2.18 Taskings

It is essential that the operational capability of teams is considered when tasking;

Communications protocols and call signs should be established in accordance with the communications routine SOP and a record maintained within the OC. Call signs should be agreed with all assets and radio’s issued if not already held.

Considerations should be given to nominating a specific site for each team within the holding area and establish a means of contact prior to tasking. Different team types should be recognised and sited accordingly for immediate deployment. Consideration must be given to closely matching team types and their respective equipment, e.g. similar powered boat types paired for night operations – poorly paired boats may cause significant problems in terms of launch sites, operating depths and speed.

Generally, tasking should be based upon a simple mnemonic:
S –Situation – what is the situation, who/what is involved, big picture, small picture?

M – Mission - What are the team’s mission objectives? What are the team expected to achieve?

R – Resources – What resources are available, i.e. equipment, Boats, Medical Teams/Field Hospitals, Casualty Holding Areas, Fuel locations, etc.

L – Limitations – i.e. Time, daylight, resources, etc.

A – Ask – Ensure that taskings are fully understood – check by asking relevant questions.

C – Confirm – seek appropriate confirmation from team members.

P – Plan – Allow appropriate time for Team Leaders to plan, brief and resource their teams – consideration should be given to the amount of time it has taken to conduct the initial Team Leader brief, as an equivalent amount of time will be required for the individual briefing of teams.

A – Ask – Team Leaders should follow the same pattern in asking pertinent questions of their team to confirm knowledge and understanding of mission requirements.

C – Confirm - – Seek appropriate confirmation.

E – Execute – Carry out activities in line with the operational plan.

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