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4. Search Operations

The focus of the Recovery Center is to recover the missing child.

An early and thorough search of the local community is critical. It is the number one priority of the Recovery Center to recover the child, mark any evidence, collect tips and document witness accounts. Under direction of the Targeting function, the planned search areas should be mapped and assigned priority, and the searches conducted accordingly.

The number of people who volunteer to help will vary greatly from case to case. Some aspects affecting the volume of volunteer help may include media coverage, community awareness, search status, weather, etc.

A call for volunteers may be required. Flyers asking for search volunteers can be distributed, appeals can be made through the media, and local organizations contacted. Check for local resources such as state and national reserve units, state guard units, and military bases.

Monitor and flag any potential problems that may help or hinder a searcher's ability (health or family considerations, criminal backgrounds [seek advice and cooperation from local law enforcement], and psychological problems). Turn any suspect information over to investigating authorities.

Screen for special skills or equipment to be identified on the Resource List (Section on List Maintenance) such as previous military or police experience, boating or kayaking experience, search and rescue experience, etc.

A search group of no more than twenty searchers should be assembled close to the departure time so they do not get separated or distracted.

The safety of the search teams is important. No one should search remote or isolated areas alone.

The Recovery Center must assess the number of volunteers it can process and accommodate in an efficient and timely manner.


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