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Sticky Topic How to help SAR find you if you are lost (Read 28488 times)
Vapour
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How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Nov 11th, 2010 at 3:37pm
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I read on here a couple years ago some suggestions of what to do if you get lost.  Feel free to add/correct me on anything I've written here. This will likely become a Information Resource of some sort. I am fairly new to SAR but thought some of the younger new hunters might like to know how SAR operate so as to be found quicker.

here goes:

Pre Planning
Tell someone where you are going, when and how long you will be.  Leave a map if you can.  Leave a “if not out by this time call the police” time frame.  Let them know what you have, who you are going with/flying with etc
Also keep photos of your gear and especially your boot tread pattern.  You partner/mate can give this to SAR so they know what colour/gear they are looking for.  Include, pack, food, vechicle, clothing, rifle – whatever
(Survival gear and proficiency of GPS/Map reading will not be covered here – This will be assumed otherwise you wouldn’t be in the bush in the first place Wink)

Lost
When you realise someone will be/should be looking for you, what do you do then?  
Stay calm and don’t make decisions in a panic/distressed state.  Rest if you need to, conserver food and energy, keep warm.
IF you decide to walk yourself out and are able to, leave LOTS of sign, step in the mud holes and sand, don’t walk around them.  Break ferns and leave a good trail, the easier to follow the better.
If you find a track/Hut stay there, SAR will monitor these regularly and check them first.
DO NOT hide from SAR or be embarrassed about being lost.  Truth is SAR guys love finding people and volunteer to do so.  Let them find you, make it easy for them.  
If you get out on your own and know people are looking for you, find them and tell them IMMEDIATELY.

Search Techniques
Helicopter - Helicopters will come in around the second day/night, if you hear a helicopter circling around at night – chances are they have night vision on board.  Find an open an area as possible and light a fire, light a match or turn your torch on.  Light shows up easily with Night Vision but needs a fairly clear line of sight.  With a helicopter during the day you could light a fire and send smoke, but best to get to a clearing and wave your arms around, reflect the sun etc.  Generally searchers on the ground won’t wave Roll Eyes to a helicopter searching the same area.

Light search – SAR will often search at night using light sweeps (spot lights, torches flashing around). This is done on tracks and high points – well anywhere really.  If you see flashes of light try to respond with your own light or yelling/whistling etc.

Sound search – This is done extensively on searches.  If you ever hear a whistle, it will be SAR looking for you, respond by yelling or using your own whistle, or gun shots.

TCA/Tracking – SAR teams are trained to look for tracks and clues, leave as much of both as you can, tracking is also done at night, so expect to be found at anytime.

Search Dogs – SAR dogs are trained to track or area search for lost parties.  If a dog finds you stay STILL.  In some case police dogs are used as SAR dogs, so you don’t want them to think you are a criminal  Shocked.  DO NOT touch/feed/pat or say anything to the dog.  It is trained to sit by you and bark. This will be loud an un-comfortable, cover your ears and wait for the handler.

When found
Identify yourself, SAR people will take over from here and will assist you with getting you out.  If you have a dog with you keep it under control (tied up).  Also remember to keep any firearms safe.



...  Please feel free to add/remove/elaborate on anything


  
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Aquila
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #1 - Nov 11th, 2010 at 4:39pm
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From a SAR background of about 8 years you are right on most points.

If you leave a plan, DON'T DEVIATE FROM IT. Don't chase animals through 3 watersheds and then find you are lost.

Helicopters are very dependent on the region, In Canterbury we will have a chopper at search base before most searchers turn up. It will be looking for you as it buzzes around BUT it is deploying searchers rather than specifically looking for you.

Don't start leaving tracks once you are lost, Do it from the time you step out of your vehicle because if you have left a vehicle then this is where we will start until we have a sighting of you by someone else on the ground. The vehicle is the LAST KNOWN POINT. We know you were here.

A first search along a track will be a hasty team. Depending on the teams fitness they won't be hanging around. I can track at a brisk jog for a couple of hours at a time if on good sign and in good light.

Jump in every big muddy puddle, every bit of soft ground, bend over vegetation every 20  odd steps, it only needs to be a small branch, Even a leaf upside down stands out like dogs balls to a trained searcher.

Sound and light lines will be carried out on tracks as searchers move around initially but will move to linear features as the search goes on. Ridges, fencelines, tracks, anything a group of searchers can use as a reference to work from.

SAR dogs, Depends on the dog as to how they react, Some will find you and run away to bring the handler back, Most will bark until the handler shows up. Police dogs are trained to bark and provided you are not aggressive towards the dog you'll be fine. They know the difference between chasing someone bad and doing SAR work.

Hunters are the worst group to track. Behavioural studies show that 75% of hunters are found 74km's from the last known point, They are hard to track and don't like being found, generally because they are too proud to admit they are lost. Hunters will hide from a SAR team and follow them out without alerting the searchers. There have been methods developed that work well to combat this.

The best person to track a hunter is another hunter with SAR experience.

As PaleRider said we are there because we love doing it. We train to save lives just like Fireman, Ambos and Policemen. Having said that the easier YOU make it for us to find you, The higher your chance of it being a RESCUE rather than a body recovery.
  
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Buntz
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #2 - Nov 13th, 2010 at 11:10pm
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All good advice guys. Be careful quoting stats as its easy to lose credibility. 75% found 74 kms away ?
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #3 - Nov 15th, 2010 at 7:02am
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Buntz wrote on Nov 13th, 2010 at 11:10pm:
All good advice guys. Be careful quoting stats as its easy to lose credibility. 75% found 74 kms away ?

Normally at the pub round the corner Grin Grin
Possibly meant to be 7.4 km's
  

Outta the way sheep shagger !
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Aquila
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #4 - Nov 15th, 2010 at 6:27pm
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no, 74km's is correct.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #5 - Nov 15th, 2010 at 6:39pm
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Thats a long way.. you walk at say 5 kph then thats over 14 hours walking... if its in a straight line!?  Shocked Screw that lol
  
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Dbarraclough
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #6 - Nov 15th, 2010 at 6:46pm
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A mate of mine always snaps crown fern leaves off and drops them on the ground as he's hunting along, he always places them so they're pointing in the direction he's going. Quite handy backtracking when you're in a rush heading back to camp, if placed upside down they glint in torchlight so can be bloody easy to follow You also know exactly which way you'd travelled when you run into them later on.
  
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Aquila
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #7 - Nov 15th, 2010 at 6:51pm
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The_Jester wrote on Nov 15th, 2010 at 6:39pm:
Thats a long way.. you walk at say 5 kph then thats over 14 hours walking... if its in a straight line!?  Shocked Screw that lol


Thats because most hunters get lost by chasing an animal then try and walk back so after 3 or 4 days they are well and truely lost then they call for help or are reported overdue.....
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #8 - Nov 16th, 2010 at 10:16pm
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Good posting Palerider and I really do not aim to highjack this threat. Aquila you have made a statement and confirmed it was not a misprint. Can you please share your source and references  to this info with the rest of us. Are you talking N.Z. when you quote these figures?

I certainly realise lost person behaviour means many lost hunters may walk in circles  but 74 kms throught N.Z. bush by 75 % of them.

I presume your have read Lost Person Behavior by Robert Koester and may have attended his N.Z. workshops. I believe his research  does not support your statement.

This post is not a challenge but the sharing of factual info.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #9 - Nov 17th, 2010 at 8:07pm
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Buntz wrote on Nov 16th, 2010 at 10:16pm:
Good posting Palerider and I really do not aim to highjack this threat. Aquila you have made a statement and confirmed it was not a misprint. Can you please share your source and references  to this info with the rest of us. Are you talking N.Z. when you quote these figures?

I certainly realise lost person behaviour means many lost hunters may walk in circles  but 74 kms throught N.Z. bush by 75 % of them.

I presume your have read Lost Person Behavior by Robert Koester and may have attended his N.Z. workshops. I believe his research  does not support your statement.

This post is not a challenge but the sharing of factual info.

Agree with that seems a hell of a long way (bout the same as Christchurch to Ashburton approx 80 odd km's,which is flat and most hunters are normally in demanding terain which is also measured on the flat )I'd also like to see the documents this comes from.
  

Outta the way sheep shagger !
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goosebayhunter
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #10 - Nov 17th, 2010 at 8:24pm
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hey postdriver these are statistics and maybe not be done in new zealand. "i have done a few courses with sarinz and some of there info is based on data from america and can be related to new zealand use"
so stop debating who cares. just know how to get yourself out of being missing to completely lost.
eg missing is not knowing where you are but being having the skills to be able to re orientate.
eg lost is not knowing where you are and not having the skills or physical ability to re-orientate.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #11 - Nov 18th, 2010 at 7:25am
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Good info.
I would like to add that if you decide to light a fire to attract attention, put some thought into it and don't set alight the nearest gorse bush Undecided
We spent a couple of days putting out a fire lit by some lost hunters who bundled up pine needles in hurry and lit them. Sad
  

If you want someting done, ask someone who's busy.
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #12 - Nov 19th, 2010 at 4:33pm
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Quote:
hey postdriver these are statistics and maybe not be done in new zealand. "i have done a few courses with sarinz and some of there info is based on data from america and can be related to new zealand use"
so stop debating who cares. just know how to get yourself out of being missing to completely lost.
eg missing is not knowing where you are but being having the skills to be able to re orientate.
eg lost is not knowing where you are and not having the skills or physical ability to re-orientate.




Goosebayhunter one of the reasons I believe it is important is that some hunter who finds himself lost in the  bush may well remember what was stated and act on it. A lot of people on this great forum are aware that Aquila has SAR experience. If I am lost  and believe that  I am probably 74 Kms from my camp as thats what most do (Aqulias 75%) my decision making may be impaired.

As stated before some excellent info in the original posts.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #13 - Nov 23rd, 2010 at 11:04am
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Stickied  Smiley

I am an operational team leader in LandSAR Wakatipu
  

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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #14 - Dec 30th, 2010 at 10:29am
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Looks like Aquila made a typo. It appears to me that he meant to say that 95% are found within 74km (i.e. from a statistically significant perspective, damn near everyone will be within 74KM of the Initial Planning Point nb NOT the LKP). I don't have my copy of the LPB book here, so I'm going from memory. Obviously the 25% and 50% zones will be much, much smaller.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #15 - Dec 30th, 2010 at 11:40am
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SAR lost person behaviour database

There used to be a pile of info you could access there including info to correct this annoying mistake by Aquila but the links have been broken, probably because someone wants to sell a book now  Angry
  

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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #16 - Feb 25th, 2011 at 7:03pm
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When I was doing the deer culling thing I was told that if you get lost, and there are punga trees with dry fronds hanging down, light them - especially if you hear a chopper - the burn fast and create think white smoke by setting the green fronds on fire.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #17 - Jun 10th, 2011 at 1:24pm
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Some great comments above, especially the initial post.

Couple more:

When leaving sign:
- Ferns if you walk through them (or put them in a similar state by hand) stand out very well for trackers...when walked through/brushed past the underside of the leaf is exposed and leaves what is known as a lighthouse it is very different looking to the top of the leaf and indicates your direction of travel well...get a mate to go through some bush and push past some ferns then stand back and look, it is very obvious where they went.

- Choppers; fire is good all the time as noted above give thought to how its down though and try to use green stuff for white smoke. At night a torch right into the cockpit will piss the guy off with night vision goggles but he won't miss you - it hurts (i.e. do it because it helps, don't be surprised if he slaps you when he gets down though hehe). Day time...wave by all means, when it looks like they are looking at you, stand straight with both arms up to form a Y with your body - international sign to say you want help and very obvious as opposed to a tramper waving at them. When they come in...bend on one knee, head down and cover your face...downwash and debris can be a bitch in the bush, wait for the rotors to stop or someone to come out and guide you into the chopper...and be careful of the rear rotors especially!

Whenever possible - recognise the guys that came out probably in shitty weather and the middle of the night or were meant to be at work...even just thanks through the local SAR group is appreciated but a Koha certainly never goes amiss, In NZ the guys are volunteers and most of the gear they are wearing is their own or only partially subsidised. My old man was a chopper S&R pilot for 30+years in highlands and fishing areas, fishermen often brought a sack or two of the catch in, farmers would drop a lamb in or whatever, really gives the guys a morale boost and as hunter costs very little extra time.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #18 - Dec 27th, 2011 at 10:29pm
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take a photo of the sole of your boots and leave it where its easily found at home with your intentions or something. Real helpful when we are tracking footprints. Great to know if its yours or we are wasting our time tracking some other person
  

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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #19 - Mar 20th, 2012 at 2:06am
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Any use in shining a green laser straight up into the sky?

They make a beam that's fairly visible in the night sky. Can get one with spare change from 10 bucks too.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #20 - Apr 3rd, 2012 at 9:43pm
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Good info palerider,im new to hunting very new Smileyand this is the sort of info that counts  when everything turns to shit ,not everyone is a hero and hides from sars then follows them out ,I would rather be found and learn from my mistakes than risk going back in next time and gettin lost again keep up the good work sar Wink

I totally agree, it also never really occurred to me that there were so many points that were helpful to SAR
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #21 - Jan 17th, 2015 at 9:21am
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What great information there is in this article thanks some of the stuff here I did not know.

As a child my farther and also at school I was always told if you ever get lost either in the the bush or in an urban environment then stay in that spot and not to move until you are found.  I would assume that this rule would still apply toady even when SAR are looking for me (should that ever happen).  I am teaching my 5 year old daughter this leason at the moment, am I wrong in my thinking and teachings. Would love to know peoples thoughts espeacialy from people who are currently in SAR.
  
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Micky Duck
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #22 - Jan 17th, 2015 at 10:10am
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hunting here in central south island for last 20odd years it gets hard to see how anyone gets bushed down here. mount Somers is classic case..if you just walk DOWNHILL/down stream you have to come out where you started from or plurry close to it as the ashburton side of hill is huge watershed that drains out past entry points. you have to go a long way back and up to get out of that watershed.
If injured and unable to get out on my own,you will find me by a creek.....tucked up warm and waiting with small fire going. and wearing ashley gumboots makes lovely easy to find tracks Grin Grin Grin my Wife always has plan of where I am and estimated time out. our home computer has hunting area on google earth so my haunts are there to be seen.
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #23 - Jan 26th, 2015 at 6:57pm
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Quote:
my Wife always has plan of where I am and estimated time out. our home computer has hunting area on google earth so my haunts are there to be seen.


Technology these days makes it easier too.  I screen shot the DOC maps website where I will be hunting, and send that to my partner or save it on our Ipad so she can see.  You can even edit the image and draw your intended route on it if necessary.

I am now off to take a photo of the sole of my boots and pxt it to her - she will wonder what the hell I am doing Cheesy
  
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Re: How to help SAR find you if you are lost
Reply #24 - Sep 7th, 2020 at 9:08pm
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carry a PLB..... and if you need to use it...push the plurry button.
much much easier to find and help someone if we know where you are to begin with...
  
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