State-of-the-art web based services for on-location support
Grid equipment for search and rescue partners
On location support with daily training for volunteers
Community engagement, social media, and marketing assistance
It is the mission of Search Tech Advisory Team to provide technology, experience and organizational tools to civilian search and rescue teams to improve rescue outcomes for missing persons.
The National Institute of Justice calls unidentified remains and missing persons “the nation’s silent mass disaster,” estimating that on any given day, there are between 80,000 and 90,000 people actively listed with law enforcement as missing. And while the majority of those disappear in populated areas, the scale of the issue of the people missing in our wild places is simply unknown. Here is what we do know:
Nearly 50,000 people required search and rescue aid in the country’s national parks system alone between 2004 - 2014. But this number is only a fraction of the search and rescue problem in the United States. While National Parks track detailed statistics on Search and Rescue efforts, the scale of the problem in the far more numerous regional and state parks is completely unknown. What’s certain is that, in a conservative estimate, across the country’s 6,600+ state & regional parks and preserves, someone gets injured or disappears in the US wilderness on a daily basis.
During a rescue mission, each day, hour and minute is critical to maximizing the chances of finding a person alive. Inefficiencies in the search and rescue process, including lack of technology and specialized skills, poor or inefficient organization and delays or inequity in accessing resources can hamper rescue efforts and drastically reduce the chances of finding loved ones alive.
Technology provides critical aid at all points of a search and rescue effort but knowing what is appropriate for the terrain and situation, what is available and how to procure it is a challenge. Wilderness areas where Search and Rescue efforts are most common pose unique technology challenges for civilians and SAR groups, including lack of connectivity for ground communications and tracking safety of volunteer resources. Delays or inability to procure the right technology can mean life or death for a lost or injured person.
STAT invests in web based Search and Rescue command center software that provides the capability to plan, prioritize, assign search zones to civilian search teams and update cleared areas in real-time. A smartphone app will guide search teams to the correct locations, update cleared areas to the command center and collect other important information that may be pertinent to the search and rescue. STAT will contribute to the build of these tools by contributing technology development resources and/or investing in improving pre-existing web platforms.
STAT also provides technology resources to SAR groups through the dissemination of local, off the grid communications equipment for voice and data that use MESH networks to overcome the communication challenges in wilderness areas.
Unlike in missing persons cases in populated areas, there are no federal or state standards for search and rescue efforts in wilderness areas. Poor or slow organization of civilian volunteers, lack of pre-established search grids and a vast spectrum of capability from local search and volunteer teams can complicate and delay search and rescue efforts.
STAT provides on-site training on tools needed for trackable searching, current best practices, and coordination of agency and volunteer efforts for more efficient and effective search efforts. We recognize that local search teams and volunteer groups will be best positioned to engage quickly in search and rescue efforts. Our goal is to strengthen these teams and help them with resource management, training, and search planning. We are proud to offer our services free of cost. It is a major goal within our organization to help alleviate the financial burden to families and communities with regards to SAR, both by efficient management of resources, and also by making financial contributions directly to the search effort.
Community Engagement & Social Media Support
In our first search, we readily recognized the benefit of a public funding page. We used Go-Fund-Me as the platform, as most people are already familiar with it. Not only does it help to ease the financial burden put the the family or county, but it also allowed those wanting to help to get involved, even from a distance.
Donations from friends, family, the community, local organizations and good-hearted strangers, help to fund non-government assets like drones, helicopters and specialized communication equipment. Public interest and funding is a strong tool for securing specialized resources like rappellers, divers and search dogs. Delays in launching a community engagement campaign mean delays in critical funding and physical resources during the initial hours and days of a Search & Rescue effort.
Effective use of social media, local press, and community networking plays a strong role in strengthening a search effort . On the flip side, public relations mistakes with press and/or online platforms can have negative impacts to the search effort as well as mis-informing grieving friends and families.
STAT provides community engagement and outreach support to Search & Rescue groups to help them effectively harness social media and other engagement tools. We are also happy to offer our lessons learned in using press to strengthen a search, as well as share our lessons in pit falls and mistakes when it comes to larger media coverage.