Search and Rescue
Glossary and Acronyms
Please note that the following definitions are for reference purposes. They may or may not reflect the definitions used in certain jurisdictions or by certain individuals or groups.
Air Scent Canine - A search dog that will detect airborne human scent.
Alert - Term used for physical signs a canine or horse gives when they are interested in something. Canines may alert by barking, horses may alert by placing their ears forward, distending their nostrils, focusing their eyes, stopping forward movement, etc.
ARDA - American Rescue Dog Association
ARES - Amateur Radio Emergency Services
Ascender - Mechanical device (clamps) utilized by high angle rescue teams, that allows the flow of rope to be controlled in a specific direction (usually upward).
Attraction Search - Search based on the idea that the victim is alive, willing to be found and will, upon hearing or seeing signs of rescue, make them self and their position known.
B-NICE - Five categories of terrorist incidents: Biological, Nuclear, Incendiary, Chemical and Explosives.
Bastard Search - A search in which, for one reason or another and unknown to the searchers, there is no subject, as the subject is elsewhere rather than in the search area.
Belay - Term used by high/low angle rescue teams, for the act of one person controlling the descent of another person or object.
Bloodhound - A search dog that is remarkable for its keen sense of smell and often used as tracking/trailing canines.
Bowline - One of the more common fixed loop knots utilized in rescue situations.
Briefing - A meeting before a search in which information is disclosed to the search teams in order to initiate and properly execute the search.
Burnout - Mental and emotional problems that occur soon after or even during a stressful incident or series of incidents.
CAP - Civil Air Patrol
Carabiner - A device utilized extensively by high/low angle rescue teams. It is usually a "D" shaped type of metal link that opens on one side to insert rope or webbing.
Caving - the art of being able to navigate through caves usually for recreational purposes, but may be for rescue purposes.
CERT - Community Emergency Response Team
Confinement Search - Also a containment measure. Search in which the object is to confine the subject to a specific area.
Compass - A device that indicates northerly direction based on the needle pointing at the nearest magnetic core.
Consequence Management - The response to a disaster, focusing on alleviating damage, loss, hardship or suffering.
Crisis Management - Measures to identify, acquire, and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent, and/or resolve a threat or act.
Critical Incident Stress - Problems that can arise as a result of an over taxing situation, such as a major disaster event.
D.O. - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
DART - Downed Aircraft Rescue Transmitter ALSO Disaster Assistance Response Team
Debriefing - a meeting after a search or after a team has been called in, in which all information found is disclosed and where suggestions can be made for the future.
Dedicaton - Perseverance - Service - "Working Together, So Others May Live" - Motto of Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue.
DF - Direction Finding - as in equipment described under "ELT".
Dog Team - One handler and one canine.
ELT - Emergency Locator Transmitter - A low-power transmitting device carried on light aircraft as required by federal law, and on most military aircraft. It is impact activated and transmits a distinctive sweeping tone that can be detected by aircraft mounted or hand-held direction finding (DF) equipment.
EMS - Emergency Medical Service
EMT - Emergency Medical Technician
EOC - Emergency Operations Center
EPIRB - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon - The marine version of the "ELT". It will float and is manually activated or activated when submerged in the water.
Equine - Horse
FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency
Figure 8 - One of the more common knots utilized in search and rescue operations, especially within the high angle/rappelling unit.
FLIR - Forward Looking Infrared - A thermal imaging device designed to be aircraft mounted, usually on a helicopter, that can detect heat sources at night. Useful in locating persons on foot, in concealed vehicles, aircraft wreckage, and other heat sources.
Gibbs - A specific type of rescue ascender.
GCSAR - Gloucester County Search and Rescue
GPS - Ground Positioning System - Based upon satellites, this small computer will give exact locations using latitude and longitude.
GPSAR - Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue - The premier search and rescue organization in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Grid Search - All searchers move forward on a line. They are spaced closely together. This search is slow and methodical and takes a lot of time.
Handler - The person who controls and directs a canine during a search. This person is usually, but does not have to be, the owner or trainer of the canine.
Hasty Search - A search whose purpose is to cover the most obvious places a subject might be in the least time possible. Usually the first kind of search tactic to be utilized.
HazMat - Hazardous Materials
Heat Exhaustion - a heat related condition in which the victim shows elevated temperature, poor heart action, clammy skin, cramping and dizziness. It is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperature.
Heat Stroke - a heat related condition which is serious and life threatening. The victim will show rapid pulse, no sweating, and hot skin. It is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperature.
Helibase - A location within the general incident area for parking, fueling, maintenance and loading of helicopters.
Helispot - A location where a helicopter can take off and land.
High Angle - A term used by rappelling teams. Its specific indication is usually anything over 45 degrees.
Hug-A-Tree - A class taught by certified teachers to young children. This course teaches children and their parents how not to get lost and what to do if in fact they should get lost.
Hypothermia - A generalized cooling that may lower the body temperature below normal..
ICS - Incident Command System
Incident - An occurrence or event, either human caused or natural phenomena, that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and or natural resources.
Incident Command Post - That location at which the primary command functions are executed.
Incident Commander - The individual responsible for the management of all incident operations.
IPP - Initial Planning Point
LKP - Last Known Position - The last known location for the missing subject as determined by physical evidence such as a discarded object or a footprint. In the case of an aircraft, the LKP may be the last reported point or the last observed radar position.
Legal Responsible Authority - The official and/or agency having legal responsibility for the emergency response to a SAR incident.
Litter - A stretcher like device utilized in rescue to transport a victim.
Local SAR Coordinator - The person responsible for coordination of SAR operations within a given jurisdiction.
Low Angle - anything under 45 degrees.
M.D. - Medical Doctor
Mission - A specific incident such as a search and rescue operation.
Mission Coordinator - The person designated by the legal responsible authority to coordinate and manage on-scene operations during a specific SAR incident. Depending upon the management system used and the organizations involved, this person may be called the Mission Coordinator, On-Scene Commander or Incident Commander.
Mock Search - Staged training that is set up to approximate as closely as possible, a real search effort.
Mountaineering - the art of mountain climbing usually for recreational purposes, but may be for rescue purposes.
Mounted Team - One rider and one horse.
MSO - Manager of Search Operations - See "Search Manager".
Mutual Aid Search - A search that is too large scale to be handled by one organization. One or more organizations or groups outside the initial group are called in to assist in the effort.
NASAR - National Association for Search and Rescue
NBC - Nuclear, Biological, Chemical
NESTR - Northeast Search and Tactical Rescue
Night Vision - A monocular or binocular piece of equipment that allows you to see in near total darkness by intensifying existing light. It may also be utilized in total darkness with an infrared attachment. Night vision is very useful for search and rescue missions.
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - A mobile weather data collection and forecasting facility including personnel, which can be utilized within the incident area.
Overhead Team - A highly trained, quick response SAR management team that can respond to assist with search planning, coordination and operations. The overhead team usually consists of a search manager and one or two assistants.
PEMA - Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
Perimeter Search - A search of an outside line that is believed to be across the direction of travel of the subject. The object is to cut the trail and find tracks or other evidence of the subject being there.
Plan of Action - A written document that consolidates all of the operational actions to be taken by various personnel in order to stabilize the incident.
PLB - Personal Locator Beacon - The personal version of the "ELT" designed to be carried by a person on foot. It is manually activated.
PLS - Point (or Place) Last Seen - The location where the missing subject was actually seen by another person.
POD or PD - Probability of Detection
POS or PS - Probability of Success
Post Traumatic Stress/Shock - Problems that arise after a critical incident that can be long lasting. Search Managers, Team Leaders, etc., should know the signs and symptoms and be alert to the well-being of every team member.
Prusik - A friction or ascending knot commonly used in belaying and climbing. Originally known as a Magnus Hitch.
PSARC - Pennsylvania Search and Rescue Council
RACES - Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services
Rappel - to descend a rope at a safe controlled speed.
Resources - All personnel and major items of equipment available, or potentially available, for assignment to incident tasks on which status is maintained.
Rural SAR - A search and rescue mission conducted in an area often given to farming or to woodland and is usually sparsely to moderately populated.
SAR - Search and Rescue.
SAR Emergency - Any SAR incident, whether related to any other type of incident or not, that requires the utilization of resources to resolve, due to the threat or potential threat to human life.
SARCNJ - Search and Rescue Council of New Jersey
Search Manager - Also known as "MSO" for Manager of Search Operations or "MSF" for Manager of the Search Function or "MSI" for Managing the Search Incident.
Sizeup - The rapid mental evaluation of the factors that influence an incident. Sizeup is the first step in determining a course of action.
SOG - Standard Operating Guidelines
SOP - Standard Operating Procedures
Sound Sweep Search - An attraction search in which all searchers call out, whistle or make some other sound at a prescribed time and then are all quiet and listening for an answer during a second prescribed time.
Space Blanket - Emergency blanket that looks a lot like foil. This thin, lite blanket keeps the body heat in.
Staging Area - That location where incident personnel and equipment are assigned.
Strike Team - Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common communication and a leader.
Task Force - A group of resources with common communications and a leader temporarily assembled for a specific mission.
TDS - Time, Distance and Shielding. - Three types of protective measures commonly associated with hazardous materials training.
Terrorism - The unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives.
That Others May Live - Motto of the search and rescue community.
Topographical Map (Topo Map) - A map used for search (usually 1:24,000) which shows physical features of a region and allows a certified search manager to deploy resources accordingly.
Toxic Materials - A type of chemical that can cause chemical harm at an incident scene. They produce harmful effects depending on the concentration of the materials and the length of exposure to them. An individual can have chronic or acute exposures to toxic materials.
Tracking Canine - A search dog that will follow the ground scent of a person who has passed through an area in which the dog is searching.
Trailing Canine - A search dog that will follow the scent trail of a specific individual, after the dog has been allowed to smell an article or object that has been in contact with that individual. The trailing dog is scent discriminating (the ability to distinguish the scent of one person and follow it).
Tracker - An individual who can detect and follow signs of human passage.
Triage - Sorting out the wounded at a major incident so that the most serious cases are treated first.
Webbing - flat nylon strap used for various rescue situations, especially in high and low angle rescue missions.
Wilderness Medicine - The administration of first aid and medical protocols for emergency's where support is not immediately forthcoming. This type of "first aid" may differ significantly from standard first aid.
Wind Chill - the temperature when the temperature is lowered by the speed or gusts of wind to create an actual temperature that one would feel against the body.
WMD - Weapons of Mass Destruction
Unified Command - A method for all agencies or individuals who have jurisdictional responsibility at the incident, to contribute to determining overall objectives for the incident and selection of a strategy to achieve the objectives.
Urban SAR - A search and rescue mission conducted in moderately to heavily populated areas given primarily to business and residential development.
Wilderness SAR - A search and rescue mission conducted in an area generally uncultivated and uninhabited and often inaccessible by roads.