4.3 Special Search Methods & Tasks
Throughout the search, needs will arise requiring specialized
personnel and equipment. These assets are most valuable in the early
hours of the search. Refer to the Resource List (Section
on Resource List) for availability.
Be sure to update the Resource List to indicate which offers of equipment
and personnel have been accepted.
Examples of special task teams are as follows:
- Helicopters should be used as soon as possible for an overview
of the site last seen and surrounding area. They are helpful for
targeting search areas and for infrared and thermal imaging searches.
- Fixed wing aircraft are useful in covering large, remote areas,
and are available through the Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary.
These organizations operate under special FAA regulations that allow
them to fly lower and slower than normal category aircraft. Ultralights
may also be used. Direct communication with the aircraft is important.
- Canine search teams are most effective if used very early in
the search effort. All canine teams are not created equal! Ask specific
questions about training standards and accreditation. First response
canine search teams will conduct their search in specific scent mode.
This requires personal items that have the missing child's specific
scent. These items include unwashed clothing, bedding, toiletries,
toys, stuffed animals, and personal effects.
- It is imperative that controls are implemented to preserve all
possible sources of missing child's scent articles. These controls
must remain in effect until the child is recovered or all investigations
have been terminated.
- Coordinate retrieval of scent items with law enforcement.
- Since a scent article can only be used one time, it will be necessary
to secure several items.
- It is imperative that extreme care be used during retrieval.
Never touch scent articles with bare hands.
- Retrieved articles must be stored in paper bags marked with collector's
name, collection place, time, and type of article.
- All articles collected must be uncontaminated. Do not include
items that have been shared with other family members or disturbed
in any way since the child's disappearance.
- Utmost care should be taken while retrieving scent articles from
child's room or residence. Do not disturb the area any more than
- Keep records of all scent articles: who used it when, where,
- Other canine team methods are cadaver search and air scent search.
- Horse team searches are best used after 48 hours. Due to the
likelihood of the destruction of evidence, it is preferable to use
horse teams outside the 1 mile radius of the site last seen.
- Marine equipment includes airboats, kayaks, small, flat-bottom
boats, and divers. Use accordingly.
- Off-Road vehicles - avoid 4 wheel ATVs - these will destroy evidence
and are too loud to hear a voice. Use more conventional 4 wheel drive
vehicles as needed.
- Fire and rescue teams may provide generators, tents, outside
lighting and expertise.
- Disaster management teams can also offer equipment, expertise
- Reaction team - Occasions will arise when second opinions will
become necessary based on information gathered by teams in the field.
The director will have organized teams of two to three people each
that will be dispatched to follow up on information that may be of
immediate importance. These teams will help the Director determine
the need for law enforcement involvement.