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Handbook 06-08
May 2006

Appendix L

Search and Rescue (SAR)

Introduction

Effective SAR operations are essential in ensuring that the loss of life is mediated. During urban disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assumes the lead role in SAR operations. The U.S. Air Force assumes the lead for inland operations, while the U.S. Coast Guard conducts operations for maritime search and rescue.

About Urban Search-and-Rescue (US&R)

US&R involves the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. Structural collapse is most often the cause of victims being trapped, but victims may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines, and collapsed trenches.

US&R is considered a “multi-hazard” discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of emergencies or disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) releases. The events may be slow in developing, as in the case of hurricanes, or sudden, as in the case of earthquakes.

The National Urban Search and Rescue Response System, established under the authority of the FEMA in 1989, is a framework for structuring local emergency services personnel into integrated disaster response task forces.

What You Didn’t Know About US&R

  • For every US&R task force (TF), there are almost 70 positions. To be certified, a US&R task force must each have at the ready more than 130 highly-trained members.
  • A is a partnership between local fire departments, law enforcement agencies, federal and local governmental agencies, and private companies.
  • A US&R TF is totally self-sufficient for the first 72 to 96 hours of a deployment.
  • The equipment cache used to support the TF weighs nearly 60,000 pounds and is worth about $1.4 million. When equipment is combined with TF members, a military C-141 transport or two C130s are required to deploy..
  • Training requirements are intensive. In addition to being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), each TF member must complete hundreds of hours of training. Specialties such as K-9 search, rescue, and rigging carry their own training requirements.
  • What the TF can do:
    • Conduct physical SAR in collapsed buildings
    • Emergency medical care to trapped victims
    • SAR dogs
    • Assessment and control of gas, electric service, and HAZMAT
    • Evaluation and stabilization of damaged structures

US&R Participants

There are many participants in the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. These participants can be grouped into three main categories.

  • FEMA: FEMA establishes policy and leads the coordination of the national system.
  • US&R TFs: There are 28 FEMA US&R TFs spread throughout the continental United States who are trained and equipped by FEMA to handle structural collapse.
  • Incident support teams: These teams support the US&R TFs in accomplishing their mission through logistical, electronic, and coordination expertise.

National Search and Rescue Committee (NSARC)

The NSARC is a federal-level committee formed to coordinate civil SAR matters of interagency interest within the United States.

NSARC member agencies:

  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • U.S. Air Force
  • National Park Service
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Coast Guard

US&R Task Forces

FEMA can activate and deploy the TF to provide assistance in structural collapse rescue or pre-position them when a major disaster threatens a community. Each TF must have all its personnel and equipment at the embarkation point within six hours of activation. The TF can be dispatched and en route to its destination in a matter of hours.

Each TF is comprised of almost 70 specialists and is divided into six major functional elements: search, rescue, medical, HAZMAT, logistics, and planning. The TF is divided into two 35-member teams, which allows for the rotation and relief of personnel for round-the-clock SAR operations.

TFs also have the flexibility to reconfigure and deploy as one 28-person (Type-III) team to respond to small, primarily weather-driven incidents, where the requirements would be physical, technical, and canine SAR in light, wood-frame construction. Such events typically include hurricanes, tornados, ice storms, and typhoons.

Some of the capabilities of the US&R TFs are:

  • Physical SAR operations in damaged/collapsed structures
  • Operations in a known or suspected weapons of mass destruction environment
  • Emergency medical care for entrapped victims, task force personnel and search canines
  • Reconnaissance to assess damage and needs, and provide feedback to other officials
  • Assessment/shut-off of utilities to houses and other buildings
  • HAZMAT survey/evaluations
  • Structural and hazard evaluations of buildings
  • Stabilization of damaged structures, including shoring and cribbing operations

TFs by Location

State

Number

Organization

Arizona

AZ-TF1

Phoenix, Arizona

California

CA-TF1

LA City Fire Dept.

 

CA-TF2

LA County Fire Dept.

 

CA-TF3

Menlo Park Fire Department

 

CA-TF4

Oakland Fire Dept.

 

CA-TF5

Orange Co. Fire Authority

 

CA-TF6

Riverside Fire Department

 

CA-TF7

Sacramento Fire Dept.

 

CA-TF8

San Diego Fire Dept.

Colorado

CO-TF1

State of Colorado

Florida

FL-TF1

Metro-Dade Fire Dept.

 

FL-TF2

Miami Fire Dept.

Indiana

IN-TF1

Marion County

Maryland

MD-TF1

Montgomery Fire Rescue

Massachusetts

MA-TF1

City of Beverly

Missouri

MO-TF1

Boone County Fire Protection District

Nebraska

NE-TF1

Lincoln Fire Dept.

Nevada

NV-TF1

Clark County Fire Dept.

New Mexico

NM-TF1

State of New Mexico

New York

NY-TF1NYC

Fire and EMS, Police

Ohio

OH-TF1

Miami Valley US&R

Pennsylvania

PA-TF1

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Tennessee

TN-TF1

Memphis Fire Dept.

Texas

TX-TF1

State of Texas Urban Search & Rescue

Utah

UT-TF1

Salt Lake Fire Dept.

Virginia

VA-TF1

Fairfax Co. Fire & Rescue Dept.

 

VA-TF2

Virginia Beach Fire Dept.

Washington

WA-TF1

Puget Sound Task Force

TFs by Location (continued)

Profile of a Rescue

While every SAR assignment is unique, a rescue might go something like this:

  • Response always begins at the local level with first responders. If the emergency is great enough, the local emergency manager requests assistance from the state.
  • Following the disaster, the local emergency manager requests assistance from the state, the state in turn can request federal assistance, and FEMA deploys the three closest TFs.
  • After arriving at the site, structural specialists, who are licensed professional engineers, provide direct input to FEMA TF members about structural integrity of buildings and the risk of secondary collapses.
  • The search team ventures around and into the collapsed structure shoring up structures and attempting to locate trapped victims. The team uses electronic listening devices, search cameras, and specially trained search dogs to locate victims.
  • Once a victim is located, the search group begins the daunting task of breaking and cutting through thousands of pounds of concrete, metal, and wood to reach the victims. They also stabilize and support the entry and work areas with wood shoring to prevent further collapse.
  • Medical teams, composed of trauma physicians, emergency room nurses, and paramedics provide medical care for the victims as well as the rescuers, if necessary. A fully stocked mobile emergency room is part of the TF equipment cache. Medics may be required to enter the unstable interior of the collapsed structure to render immediate aid.
  • Throughout the effort HAZMAT specialists evaluate the disaster site, and decontaminate rescue and medical members who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals or decaying bodies.
  • Heavy rigging specialists direct the use of heavy machinery, such as cranes and bulldozers. These specialists understand the special dangers of working in a collapsed structure and help to ensure the safety of the victims and rescuers inside.
  • Technical information and communication specialists ensure that all team members can communicate with each other and the TF leaders, facilitating search efforts and coordinating evacuation in the event of a secondary collapse.
  • Logistics specialists handle the more than 16,000 pieces of equipment to support the search and extrication of the victims. The equipment cache includes such essentials as concrete cutting saws; search cameras; medical supplies; and tents, cots, food, and water to keep the TF self-sufficient for 72 or 96 hours.

Search Assessment Marking

  • A specialized marking system is used to conspicuously denote information relating the victim location determinations in the areas searched.
  • The Search Assessment Marking System is designed to be used in conjunction with the Structure and Hazards Evaluation Marking System.
  • A 2’ x 2’ “X” is made with International Orange color spray paint. This X is constructed in two operations:

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Single slash drawn upon entry to a structure or area indicates search operations are currently in progress. The time and TF identifier are posted as indicated.

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Crossing slash drawn upon personnel exit from the structure or area.

  • Distinct markings are made inside the four quadrants of the X to clearly denote the search status and findings at the time of this assessment.
  • The marks are made with carpenter chalk, lumber crayon, or duct tape, and black magic marker.


Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Left Quadrant - US&R TF identifier

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Top Quadrant - Time and date that the TF personnel left the structure.

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Right Quadrant - Personal hazards.

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Bottom Quadrant - Number of live and dead victims still inside the structure. [“0" = no victims]

fig A12-1c

Left Quadrant - US&R TF identifier

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Top Quadrant - Time and date that the TF personnel left the structure.

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Right Quadrant - Personal hazards.

Graphic depicting example of Search Assessment Marking System

Bottom Quadrant - Number of live and dead victims still inside the structure. [“0" = no victims]

  • It is important that markings are made specific to each area of entry or separate part of the building.
  • If no victims are found, it is noted with a “0" below.
  • Situation updates are noted as they are available:
  • Previous search markings are crossed out
  • New markings are placed below (or next to) their previous markings with the most recent information.

FEMA TF Tools and Equipment

  • To ensure rapid response and to avoid burdening the already suffering community more, the TF equipment cache must be a mobile emergency room, construction site, communications center, high-tech engineering firm, and camp rolled into one.
  • The equipment cache consists of five types of equipment: medical, rescue, communications, technical support, and logistics.
  • Medical supplies include various medicines, intravenous fluids, blankets, suture sets, airways, tracheal tubes, defibrillators, burn treatment supplies, bone saws, and scalpels.
  • The search component of the equipment resembles the equipment at a normal construction site. Common building supplies such as concrete saws, jackhammers, drills, lumber, and rope are used to safely and slowly remove victims from the rubble.
  • The communications section allows rescuers to stay in contact in case of a find or an evacuation. Generators, lights, radios, cellular phones, laptop computers, and other electronics equipment are used.
  • More than 500 items make up the technical support cache, the most high-tech of all the equipment. Snake-like cameras and fiber optic scopes are used to locate victims trapped in rubble. Sensitive listening devices that can detect even the slightest human sound locate victims who are still alive.
  • The logistics section cares for the needs of the rescuers as they work in 12-hour shifts around the clock. Supplies include sleeping bags, cots, food, and water, as well as cold weather gear.

United States Coast Guard (USCG)

In 1956, with the publishing of the first National Search and Rescue Plan, the USCG was designated the single federal agency responsible for maritime SAR and, likewise, the United States Air Force (USAF) was designated the single federal agency responsible for federal-level SAR for the inland regions. In order to meet the need for trained USCG and USAF SAR planners, the Joint Service National Search and Rescue School was established at Governors Island, New York ,on 19 April 1966. This action created a facility devoted exclusively to training professionals to conduct SAR.

With $15,000 and a vacant WWII barracks building, six highly experienced USCG and USAF personnel formed the National SAR School. Since the first class over thirty years ago, over 14,000 have joined the ranks of trained SAR professionals. This includes over 1,400 international students from 103 nations.

The school was moved to the USCG Reserve Training Center (RTC) Yorktown (now USCG TRACEN Yorktown), Virginia, in 1988. The curriculum of the school has been changed over the years to include newly developed computer search planning programs and advances in search theory and application. Additionally, many instructional technology changes have been incorporated, which allow the school to maintain its distinction as the premier school of its type in the world.

SAR is one of the USCG's oldest missions. Minimizing the loss of life, injury, property damage, or loss by rendering aid to persons in distress and property in the maritime environment has always been a USCG priority. USCG SAR response involves multi-mission stations, cutters, aircraft, and boats linked by communications networks. The National SAR Plan divides the U.S. area of SAR responsibility into internationally recognized inland and maritime SAR regions. The USCG is the maritime SAR coordinator. To meet this responsibility, the USCG maintains SAR facilities on the East, West, and Gulf coasts and in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico, as well as on the Great Lakes and inland U.S. waterways. The USCG is recognized worldwide as a leader in the field of SAR.

Maritime Search and Rescue Background: Program Objectives and Goals

SAR background statistics/information:

  • 95% of all USCG SAR occurs less than 20 nautical miles offshore.
  • Approximately 90% of cases involve assist/rescue only.
  • 8% of cases involve minor searches (less than 24 hours).
  • 2% of cases involve major searches (greater than 24 hours).
  • Those 10% of cases involving searches (minor and major) cost more than $50 million annually.

It is advantageous to reduce the time spent searching in order to:

  • Save more lives
  • Save USCG resources
  • Place fewer USCG personnel at risk

The school provides search planners with the skills and practice they need to become SAR detectives and information distillers. They must aggressively pursue leads and obtain all information available to successfully prosecute cases.

SAR program objectives are:

  • Minimize loss of life, personnel injury, property loss, and damage to the maritime environment.
  • Minimize search duration and crew risk during SAR missions.
  • Maintain a world leadership position in maritime SAR.

SAR program goals are (after USCG notification):

Save at least 93% of those people at risk of death on the waters over which the USCG has SAR responsibility.

Prevent the loss of at least 85% of the property at risk on the waters over which the USCG has SAR responsibility.

USAF

Air Force rescue coordination center (AFRCC)

As the United States’ inland SAR coordinator, the AFRCC serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The AFRCC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center, located at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, directly ties in to the FAA’s alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. In addition to the SAR satellite-aided tracking information, the AFRCC computer system contains resource files that list federal and state organizations that can conduct or assist in SAR efforts throughout North America.

When a distress call is received, the center investigates the request; coordinates with federal, state, and local officials; and determines the type and scope of response necessary. Once verified as an actual distress situation, AFRCC requests support from the appropriate federal SAR force. This may include Civil Air Patrol (CAP), USCG or other DOD assets, as needed. State agencies can be contacted for state, local, or civil SAR resource assistance within their jurisdiction. The AFRCC chooses the rescue force based on availability and capability of forces, geographic location, terrain, weather conditions, and urgency of the situation.

During ongoing SAR missions, the center serves as the communications hub and provides coordination and assistance to on-scene commanders or mission coordinators in order to recover the mission’s objective in the safest and most effective manner possible. AFRCC uses state-of-the-art technology including a network of satellites for monitoring emergency locator transmitter signals. Systems such as these help reduce the critical time required to locate and recover people in distress.

The AFRCC also formulates and manages SAR plans, agreements, and policies throughout the continental United States. Additionally, it presents a mobile Search Management Course to CAP wings throughout the U.S. to produce qualified incident commanders, thus improving national SAR capability.

The AFRCC also assigns instructors to the National SAR School at the USCG Reserve Training Center. The instructors teach the Inland Search and Rescue Class throughout the United States and at many worldwide military locations. This joint school is designed for civilian and military personnel from federal, state, local, and volunteer organizations, all of who are responsible for SAR mission planning.

SAR missions include a variety of missions: searches for lost hunters, hikers, or Alzheimer’s patients; sources of emergency locator transmitter signals; and missing aircraft. The center frequently dispatches rescue assets to provide aid and transportation to people needing medical attention in remote or isolated areas, for emergency organ or blood transportation, or for medical evacuations, when civilian resources are not available.

Before 1974, the USAF divided the continental United States into three regions, each with a separate rescue center. In May of that year, the USAF consolidated the three centers into one facility at Scott AFB, Illinois. This consolidation provided better coordination of activities, improved communications, and economy of operations and standardized procedures. In 1993, AFRCC relocated to Langley AFB, Virginia, when Air Combat Command assumed responsibility for USAF peacetime and combat SAR. In October 2003, the center was realigned under the USAF Special Operations Command.

Since the center opened in May 1974, more than 13,500 lives have been saved from its missions.

Disaster Response versus Civil SAR

Aspects of disaster response (DR) and civil SAR tend to be confused, because they overlap in certain aspects, such as responsible agencies and resources used and both involve emergency response. The following information is intended to point out some of the basic differences between DR and SAR in a way that may be helpful to any persons or organizations involved in both; however, it does not address how states or localities deal with these missions and their differences.

General Comparison

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Nature of operations

Typically responding to events involving large-scale loss of lives or property, with lifesaving efforts (mostly US&R when feasible; first responders are rapidly overwhelmed and substantial help is needed from outside the affected area

Locating and rescuing persons in distress in land (wilderness, caves, etc.), maritime (mostly oceanic environment), and aeronautical (involving persons in distress in aircraft on land or water) scenarios, including possible mass rescue operations (MROs); typically 4,000-5,000 lives saved annually by U.S.

Main concept

Federal backup to states with self-sufficient deployable US&R TFs (28 now), supplemented by mitigation and recovery efforts; does not cover beyond 3 miles from shore (e.g., passenger ship sinking)

The globe is divided into a patchwork of SAR regions, each with one rescue coordination center (RCC) that arranges for SAR services within its region; U.S. SAR is part of global system of two specialized bodies of United Nations

Caseload

Typically 5-12 cases annually

Typically 40,000-50,000 cases annually

Alerting or requests for assistance

May start with initial contact by a government official to FEMA or to a local, federal, or military entity for assistance, but either initially or eventually involves a governor request to FEMA for a “major disaster” declaration by the President

Usually initiated automatically or by person in distress by communications equipment with distress alerting as a primary or secondary function, providing data to the responsible RCC

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Common basis for federal involvement

Major disaster declaration by the President based on request and justification from a governor; default response responsibility is with local/state authorities

Receipt of distress alert by any means; default response responsibility is federal military except where other arrangements are made, e.g., via agreements with states to handle inland SAR

Coordination of federal response

Often by local military command or other cognizant federal agency (e.g., National Park Service or USCG) before a disaster declaration, and by FEMA after such declaration

By the responsible RCC, using own or arranged local, national, or international resources or by delegation based on plans or agreements

Primary legal authorities

Stafford Act, Presidential Directives, the National Response Plan (NRP), and authorizing legislation relevant to various federal agencies (there are many) to provide or support federal response

International treaties, such as the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, and the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the NRP, and agency-specific legislation authorizing conduct or support of SAR

Supplemental authorities other than agency directives

NRP

National Search and Rescue Plan (NSP); available at “www.uscg.mil/hq/g-o/g-opr/nsarc/nsp.pdf”

Implementing guidance for the NRP and NSP

Mainly the National Incident Management System (NIMS)

Mainly the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR Manual) and the National Search and Rescue Supplement to the IAMSAR Manual

Terminology

Mainly per NRP and NIMS

Mainly per IAMSAR Manual

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Primary policy/oversight authorities

Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)

International Civil Aviation Organization, International Maritime Organization, and the National Search and Rescue Committee

Typical operational coordination

NIMS

Mainly international SAR procedures at the federal level, with NIMS/incident command system used mainly within (or when coordinating with) state and local levels; RCC Langley also uses incident command

Compatibility of concurrent DR and SAR

DR is carried out per the NRP and civil SAR (including MROs), if any, typically per the NSP and international SAR procedures; SAR coordination is separate from but “plugs into” the NIMS command structure

Compatibility of SAR procedures with NIMS typically achieved by assigning a SAR representative to support the incident commander in the operations section of the incident command post (ICP)

Typical command structure

Incident commander /command post or unified command

SAR mission coordinator (SMC, usually in an RCC) and on scene coordinator (OSC)

Factors affecting involvement of states

- State has primary responsibility for its DR
- State sovereignty, laws, plans, and agreements
- State capabilities
- Responsibilities assigned to state agencies
- Inter-state organizations for governors, emergency managers, etc.
.- Mutual-aid arrangements among states

- RCC Langley (AFRCC) agreements with each state
- Various other agreements, where appropriate
- RCC plans
- NSP provides for states to assume aeronautical and maritime SAR responsibilities that default to the federal government

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Factors involving other countries

- Need
- Arrangements via diplomatic channels
- Coordination/guidance of International Search and Rescue Advisory Group

- Operational expediency
- Coordination among international RCCs rather than via diplomatic channels

Primary civilian agencies

Many federal agencies signatory to the NRP under lead of FEMA; OFDA for international response

The USCG operates 10 RCCs and arranges SAR services for waters around the U.S. including half of the North Atlantic and three-fourths of the North Pacific; the National Park Service handles SAR in national parks; primary supporting agencies are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

DOD role

Defense support to civil authorities (DSCA) usually, but not limited to, actions under the Stafford Act

Per the NSP (not DSCA): primary responsibility for RCC functions in continental United States (RCC Langley) and Alaska (RCC Elmendorf); secondary support of civil SAR in rest of the world; local military commands have authority for immediate response

Search and rescue units

Mainly federal US&R Task Forces deployed under the NRP to support local efforts in U.S. or deployed internationally per OFDA

Mainly aircraft and boats with SAR-trained crews and specialized SAR equipment, along with ships at sea and all other available resources; for land SAR, mostly state and local resources

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Funding

Mainly various types of funding available under Stafford Act

Agency appropriated SAR funding or out-of-hide; no charge to survivors; each entity funds own services

General Comparison

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Nature of operations

Typically responding to events involving large-scale loss of lives or property, with lifesaving efforts (mostly US&R when feasible; first responders are rapidly overwhelmed and substantial help is needed from outside the affected area

Locating and rescuing persons in distress in land (wilderness, caves, etc.), maritime (mostly oceanic environment), and aeronautical (involving persons in distress in aircraft on land or water) scenarios, including possible mass rescue operations (MROs); typically 4,000-5,000 lives saved annually by U.S.

Main concept

Federal backup to states with self-sufficient deployable US&R TFs (28 now), supplemented by mitigation and recovery efforts; does not cover beyond 3 miles from shore (e.g., passenger ship sinking)

The globe is divided into a patchwork of SAR regions, each with one rescue coordination center (RCC) that arranges for SAR services within its region; U.S. SAR is part of global system of two specialized bodies of United Nations

Caseload

Typically 5-12 cases annually

Typically 40,000-50,000 cases annually

Alerting or requests for assistance

May start with initial contact by a government official to FEMA or to a local, federal, or military entity for assistance, but either initially or eventually involves a governor request to FEMA for a “major disaster” declaration by the President

Usually initiated automatically or by person in distress by communications equipment with distress alerting as a primary or secondary function, providing data to the responsible RCC





 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Common basis for federal involvement

Major disaster declaration by the President based on request and justification from a governor; default response responsibility is with local/state authorities

Receipt of distress alert by any means; default response responsibility is federal military except where other arrangements are made, e.g., via agreements with states to handle inland SAR

Coordination of federal response

Often by local military command or other cognizant federal agency (e.g., National Park Service or USCG) before a disaster declaration, and by FEMA after such declaration

By the responsible RCC, using own or arranged local, national, or international resources or by delegation based on plans or agreements

Primary legal authorities

Stafford Act, Presidential Directives, the National Response Plan (NRP), and authorizing legislation relevant to various federal agencies (there are many) to provide or support federal response

International treaties, such as the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, and the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the NRP, and agency-specific legislation authorizing conduct or support of SAR

Supplemental authorities other than agency directives

NRP

National Search and Rescue Plan (NSP); available at “www.uscg.mil/hq/g-o/g-opr/nsarc/nsp.pdf”

Implementing guidance for the NRP and NSP

Mainly the National Incident Management System (NIMS)

Mainly the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR Manual) and the National Search and Rescue Supplement to the IAMSAR Manual

Terminology

Mainly per NRP and NIMS

Mainly per IAMSAR Manual

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Primary policy/oversight authorities

Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)

International Civil Aviation Organization, International Maritime Organization, and the National Search and Rescue Committee

Typical operational coordination

NIMS

Mainly international SAR procedures at the federal level, with NIMS/incident command system used mainly within (or when coordinating with) state and local levels; RCC Langley also uses incident command

Compatibility of concurrent DR and SAR

DR is carried out per the NRP and civil SAR (including MROs), if any, typically per the NSP and international SAR procedures; SAR coordination is separate from but “plugs into” the NIMS command structure

Compatibility of SAR procedures with NIMS typically achieved by assigning a SAR representative to support the incident commander in the operations section of the incident command post (ICP)

Typical command structure

Incident commander /command post or unified command

SAR mission coordinator (SMC, usually in an RCC) and on scene coordinator (OSC)

Factors affecting involvement of states

- State has primary responsibility for its DR
- State sovereignty, laws, plans, and agreements
- State capabilities
- Responsibilities assigned to state agencies
- Inter-state organizations for governors, emergency managers, etc.
.- Mutual-aid arrangements among states

- RCC Langley (AFRCC) agreements with each state
- Various other agreements, where appropriate
- RCC plans
- NSP provides for states to assume aeronautical and maritime SAR responsibilities that default to the federal government


 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Factors involving other countries

- Need
- Arrangements via diplomatic channels
- Coordination/guidance of International Search and Rescue Advisory Group

- Operational expediency
- Coordination among international RCCs rather than via diplomatic channels

Primary civilian agencies

Many federal agencies signatory to the NRP under lead of FEMA; OFDA for international response

The USCG operates 10 RCCs and arranges SAR services for waters around the U.S. including half of the North Atlantic and three-fourths of the North Pacific; the National Park Service handles SAR in national parks; primary supporting agencies are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

DOD role

Defense support to civil authorities (DSCA) usually, but not limited to, actions under the Stafford Act

Per the NSP (not DSCA): primary responsibility for RCC functions in continental United States (RCC Langley) and Alaska (RCC Elmendorf); secondary support of civil SAR in rest of the world; local military commands have authority for immediate response

Search and rescue units

Mainly federal US&R Task Forces deployed under the NRP to support local efforts in U.S. or deployed internationally per OFDA

Mainly aircraft and boats with SAR-trained crews and specialized SAR equipment, along with ships at sea and all other available resources; for land SAR, mostly state and local resources

 

Disaster Response

Civil SAR

Funding

Mainly various types of funding available under Stafford Act

Agency appropriated SAR funding or out-of-hide; no charge to survivors; each entity funds own services


 

Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012

 
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