When Prevention Fails: Stages of a SAR Incident

As much as we can prepare to prevent an emergency, accidents do happen. The stages of a search and rescue incident are as follows:
1. Occurence
The occurrence stage is the moment the incident happens. It may be when you injure yourself or when you realise you’re lost or alone. In these moments, it is important to remain calm and begin to form a plan.
2. Distress Alerting or Notification

The next stage involves you alerting an outside party of your situation. This could mean signalling for help using a flare or whistle, using a cellphone to call the authorities, or utilising a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to send out your location via GPS. If you’re unsure who to contact, here are some examples:

  • – Family or friends
  • – Joint Rescue Coordination Centres
  • – Police or other agency
3. Inquiry and Investigation

At this point, a SAR team has detected that you are in need of assistance and are actively engaged in developing an appropriate response.

    4. Search

    The SAR team responsible for helping you are on the move. They are in active pursuit to find you and help you in any way possible. Continue to signal using your signalling device, remain calm, and stay where you are, help is on the way!

    5. Resolution

    The final stage of a SAR incident is resolution. The SAR team will have located you and will bring you to a safe location, providing you with food, water, and any necessary protection from the cold.