[MSAR] SOP's for SAR's within Sheriff Dept.
una.smith at att.net
Wed Feb 15 23:33:15 EST 2006
>I understand the differences between SOP's and SOG's. Which we use will be
>the decision of our Sheriff dept. I am using the term loosely.
Guidelines and procedures should used as needed, hence
the decision of which to write (SOGs or SOPs) should be
make by the users themselves. Ie, by you.
>Re: when and how to establish a search, that would be up to our S.D. They
>would call us if they need us.
There are several discrete steps involved here, and several
1. Mission initiator. Not all missions are SAR missions,
so the initiator must determine the kind of mission.
Usually, this person has no specific SAR training, beyond
the task of evaluating information to decide if the mission
is or is not a SAR mission. (In New Mexico, in theory one
or two senior State Police officers in each of the 11
districts are given this duty.)
2. SAR mission management staff. For a small search, this
is usually just one person, the Incident Commander in ICS
jargon. Management staff develop plans, break those plans
down into discrete tasks, and identify kinds of resources
suitable to perform each of those tasks. Management staff
may be Sheriff's office employees, or a volunteer SAR unit
that includes mission management staff among its resources.
3. Orderer (caller) of SAR mission resources; this task is
often performed on site by mission management staff (Incident
Commander for a small/early mission, else Logistics Section
Chief), but sometimes it is farmed out to a communications
support person at some remote location. The orderer looks
in a book (hopefully an up-to-date, comprehensive book kept
by the regional SAR community), and starts calling resources
In New Mexico's statewide SAR resource book, individuals
trained as SAR management staff are listed individually;
all other resources are listed by unit. I understand that
California is in the final stages of completing its own
first statewide SAR resource directory.
>From what you describe, Cathy, your SAR unit will have no
part in mission initiation, will provide no SAR management,
and will not order resources. Your role will start when
your unit gets a call from someone assigned the task of
ordering resources, requesting from you one or more field
teams of a particular kind (foot, horse, etc.) and type
(less or more trained, experienced, and equipped). Your
unit's task then is to respond, first by calling members,
then making a return call to the resource orderer, then by
showing up at the mission.
A basic SAR unit usually offers one or more field teams.
Each unit must have a SOP (not a SOG) to handle callouts;
the resource orderer makes one (!) call to the unit, and
the unit then works the phones among its members to figure
out who should respond; of those, who *can* respond;
what specific resources the unit can deliver for this
mission; and, finally, *reports the result* back to the
resource orderer. All this should happen *before* any
of your members leave their homes; unless the management
staff know you're coming, they have no reason to contact
you again to tell you (eg) the mission is off. Next, the
member of your unit who is handling the internal callout
process calls the unit's more experienced members to make
any plans needed to configure field teams, collect gear,
etc. Here, SOGs are important for good planning. Then
the callout handler calls back those members who will be
participating, to give each one driving directions and any
other needed instructions. All that is SOP.
Operations in the field, meaning away from incident base,
are best handled according to SOGs. That is because the
best practice in the field will depend on circumstances.
Eg, the field team leader should lead, *not* navigate or
handle radio communications. But, if the other members
of the field team are not able to perform these tasks,
the field team leader must do them. In that case, there
may be effectively no leader, or some other member may be
designated leader. Or the team leader must consider not
taking the team into the field. Are you wondering what
does the leader do? What does the task "lead" involve?
Too many SAR field team members think the leader's only
function is telling others what to do, hence they prefer
not to have a designated leader. I think that's a mistake.
Leading includes learning, understanding, and remembering
the specific field task assigned to the team. Second,
ensuring that other members of the field team also come
to understand and remain focussed on that task, rather
than making up new tasks as they listen and react to the
radio traffic. I could go on, but that's getting more
detailed than you need at this point.
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