Level 3 Field Operations Guide (fog) or Handbook


Search Strategy and Tactics



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Search Strategy and Tactics



TACTICAL SEARCH OPERATIONS




Canine Search


  • A Canine Search Team is usually comprised of two search canines and handlers and one Search Team Manager. The staffing of the TF search element allows for two separate canine teams to be deployed early in the mission.

  • The Search Team Manager will sketch the general features of the structure or area being searched noting any significant information on the sketch and forward it to the Planning Section.

  • Should either of the canine teams indicate a find, the Search Team Manager will pull that team away from the find location. The handler involved in the find should mentally note the exact location but not mark it at this time. The Search Team Manager will then direct the second canine team into the same general area. If the second team provides an indication of a find at the same location, this position is marked. The Search Team Manager will then pass this information on to the TFL and Rescue Team Manager for subsequent action. The search team then continues with its assignment.



Electronic Search


  • Technical search personnel use electronic acoustic/seismic listening devices as their primary tool. These personnel may also use fiber-optic equipment, thermal imaging (if available on site), or other sophisticated equipment as necessary.

  • A sketch of the general features of the structure or area being searched is made noting any significant information. This information is then forwarded to the Planning Section.

  • The general application of the acoustic/seismic device involves the deployment of an array of two or more pick-up probes around the perimeter of a building or void area.
  • A bull horn or other hailing device should be used to attempt to give direction to any conscious victim trapped within the structure.


  • The victim is directed to make a repetitive sound (i.e., "keep knocking five times").

  • The area should be made as quiet as possible.

  • In the same manner as the redundant canine find determination, the second Technical Search Specialist (or other TF member skilled in acoustic/seismic devices) should be used to confirm the initial find. If second operator provides an indication at the same location, it should be marked. This information would then be passed on to the TFL, and Search and Rescue Team Managers for action.

  • Fiber-optic viewing equipment, especially when used in conjunction with concrete hammer/drills, is effective for pinpointing the location of victims, although it may also be used for general void searches within collapsed buildings.

  • Personnel may drill an array or series of holes (in a floor space for example). Operators follow along with the fiber-optic device(s) making quick assessments.

  • Due to its actual visual indication of a victim, no redundant check is usually required. If the operator is required to move on for subsequent operations, the site should be marked with red tape to indicate a live victim. This information would then be passed on to the TFL, and Search and Rescue Team Managers for action.

  • The specialists should sketch the general features of the structure and area being searched noting any significant information on the sketch for future reference.



Physical Search


  • Physical search operations include deploying personnel over and around a collapse site. These personnel can make separate visual assessments in voids and confined space areas for any indication of victims. They may also be used in a coordinated fashion as an array of listeners.
  • A bull horn or hailing device would be used to provide direction to trapped victims. The area is then quieted and the personnel listen and attempt to pinpoint the location of the noise.


  • This operation is more exacting than the others and poses a significant risk to the personnel involved in the operation.



SEARCH STRATEGY




Large Scale Search Prioritization


  • Two general strategies may be used to decide how to deploy TF search resources:

  • The first would be to sector the area in question. Depending upon the size of the damaged area and the search resources available, an area may be sectored by city block or other easily definable criteria. The available search resources would be divided and apportioned to each sector for search operations. The sector strategy may work well for smaller areas but would most likely prove impractical for larger areas (such as part or all of a city or jurisdiction) in relation to the limited search resources available.

  • The second method would be to determine the search priorities in terms of the type of occupancies affected. Those that present the highest likelihood of survivability (in terms of type of construction) and the number of potential victims (in terms of the type of occupancy of the building) would receive attention first. Occupancies such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, high rise and multi-residential buildings, office buildings, etc., would be searched first.



Reconnaissance Team


  • TF staffing allows for two Reconnaissance Teams. Both can be deployed initially and subsequently alternate operational periods for sustained operations.

  • A Reconnaissance Team includes:
  • Search Team Manager  is the team supervisor, sketches, records info, communicates details and recommendations to the TFL.


  • Canine Search Specialist  conducts canine search operations and redundant verifications of alerts.

  • Technical Search Specialist  conducts electronic search operations.

  • Medical Specialist  provides treatment for located victims and/or TF members.

  • Structures Specialist  provides analysis and advice regarding building stability, shoring, and stabilization.

  • HAZMAT Specialist  monitors atmospheres in and around voids and confined spaces. Assesses, identifies, and marks HAZMAT dangers.

  • Rescue Specialist  provides assistance to the Reconnaissance Team, including drilling and breaching for electronic viewing equipment and/or deployment of listening arrays.

The following operations may be conducted by a Reconnaissance Team:



  • General area or building reconnaissance and evaluations. This will be addressed in the structure triage, assessment, and marking system presentation.

  • Victim location identification. This would include canine, electronic, and physical search operations. The location of viable victims would be denoted by marking the location.

  • Hazard identification and flagging. Any type of personal hazard should be assessed and identified, such as overhanging building components, structural instability or secondary collapse zones, hazardous materials, live utilities, etc. Hazard zones should be conspicuously cordoned off with surveyors tape or Fire Line tape.

  • Assess general atmospheric conditions in and around confined spaces or voids.
  • Sketch the general search area and note all significant issues. Communicate findings and recommend priorities to the TFL and the Planning Section.


  • The following equipment and supplies, as a minimum, are required:

  • Electric hammer-drills

  • Electronic viewing equipment

  • Electronic listening devices

  • Atmospheric monitoring equipment

  • Marking materials

  • Alerting devices

  • Medical pack

  • Personal gear – per person.




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