The Training

Managing Land Search Operations Basic provides participants with information and knowledge about conducting search operations and the overall management of a missing person incident.

Course completion enables participants to manage and direct search efforts for missing or lost persons in a more coordinated and efficient manner. The training serves as a state-of-the-art forum of information exchange about conducting search operations in wilderness,rural, or urban environments. Current text materials, articles, research documents, and the combined experience and knowledge of the instructors and course participants all combine to create an “Information Rich Learning Environment.”That environment and methodology of information sharing is one of the leading attributes of the course.

  • The ultimate goal of the Basic Managing Land Search Operations course is to improve search incident management. Informed and trained Incident Commanders with state-of-the-art search methods have more capabilities, provide better coordination, usually communicate better, and use preplanning as a hedge against poor results and failure.
  • Progressive teaching techniques maximize the use of case histories and problem solving exercises that provide practical application and challenge the participants. Practical map exercises based on real anecdotal cases serve as the basis for decision making on similar situations that may be encountered by course by participants in future actual SAR missions.
  • The MLSO Basic training course will be of interest to any agency or organization, whether professional or volunteer, with search related interests, responsibilities, or capabilities.
  • Throughout the course, and use of the Textbook, search management and planning tenets are described generically for land search so that participants can make the widest possible application of the principles and recommendations. Regardless of the environment (flat land,mountains,lakes, rivers, air search, urban or suburban neighborhoods etc.)the elements of good land search management and planning will be the same.
  • The training uses focused research and case studies to identify past mistakes with an expectation that lessons learned may well prevent future problems of the same nature.

There is no doubt that many attending this course will know some of the material presented by the very nature of having been involved in SAR at the local level for a period of time. Some may even feel that they already know all the material. While the latter is doubtful, it is none-the-less important to encourage participants to keep an open mind, and consider the scope of the entire training package as well asthe inter-relationships of all the parts.

The training discusses and builds on a logical, disciplined, and organized approach to finding a missing, lost or overdue person. It is important to stress that common sense, experience and professional needs should provide both direction and value to the course and text content.


After successful completion of this training course, participants will have had exposure to all of the basic tenets of incident management for land search operations and the rudiments of search planning. After successful completion of the Basic Managing Land Search Operations course, participants will be able to:

  1. Manage a search as the Incident Commander on a search effort for single or multiple missing or lost persons.
  2. Participate as an overhead team member on a search, for a missing or lost person.
  3. List the functions and responsibilities within the organizational structure of the Incident Command Systemfor SAR.
  4. List the essential elements of a written preplan for search operations and describe the document’s importance to a successful and effective effort.
  5. List the basic types of search resources and discuss their function and limitations.
  6. Describe the most productive and efficient tactics that can be used in search for lost or missing persons in either wilderness, rural, suburban or urban environments.
  7. Describe the importance of Reflex Tasking functions that are based on Lost Person Behavior categories.
  8. Describe an ordered priority sequence of initial actions in applying SAR resources to locate missing people.
  9. Describe the functions of vision, target orientation, search image and briefing as they relate to search, detection and recognition.
  10. List at least six specific questions that should be asked of searchers during debriefing at the end of the operational period.
  11. Demonstrate the ability to establish a workable and realistic probable search area and searchable subdivisions in a map exercise

Identify the key factors involved in deciding to suspend a mission. In addition, each participant should be able to assist his/her local jurisdiction in the following areas:

  1. Assist local Emergency Managers in developing local emergency response plans for all search and rescue operations.
  2. Coordinate and provide necessary training to other agencies, personnel, and volunteers assigned Search and Rescue operational duties.
  3. In consultation with the local Emergency Manager, develop the local SOPs for the Community Emergency Operations Plan that deal with both the search and rescue functions.

MLSO Basic Course

This course is conducted on-site with you. Please contact us for more information regarding the course.
The Basic Course spans four days and features the selection of multiple map exercises for use depending on desired (local) geography.

Agency personnel and volunteer responders routinely arriving as first on-scene-in-charge at a missing or lost person incident must establish documentation and numerical assessments that will provide essential guidance, regardless of incident length or complexity. The course provides the essence of what the first-on-scene-in-charge will have to initiate,manageand documenton. For the most part, this trainingis non-technical, but provides a building-block foundation for both on going management of the operation and technical search planning that couldbe necessary in coming operational periods. Most searches can be resolved using the informal search planning tactics and management contained in this course. The Basic course sets the foundation for the application of search planning as detailed in the Advanced Search Planning program. This training explains the principals involved in the analysis of Lost Person Behavior and lays the foundation for Reflex Tasking, statistical analysis and the use of numerical assessments.