Managing Lost Person Incidents

The Managing the Lost Person Incident (MLPI) course is designed to teach the essential knowledge and skills necessary to perform as the initial response Incident Commander on a lost person incident with the primary focus on the Search element of SAR. The course prepares the student for the management responsibilities and leadership skills required during SAR missions. The course explains the tasks and procedures needed to effectively manage SAR operations from the initial response through the expansion phases of the search to the final demobilization of all resources. This is the first true management course of the NASAR series of SAR courses. The ISAR, FUNSAR, and ADSAR courses focus on the individual and crew responsibilities as well as techniques and tactics at the crew level, whereas, the MLPI course explains and describes in detail the overall objectives, strategies, and tactics needed for a successful outcome of SAR missions. With further incident management training and field experience; the person with this training can perform as the Incident Commander on prolonged and more complex searches. The recommended duration of the course is thirty-two (32) class hours. This course may be taught over two weekends or straight through over four days. Extra practical exercises can be added and may increase the time to 40 class hours.

This course is the standard of care for organizations like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the State of California Office Of Emergency Services.

Who Should Attend:
The course is designed for the following types of people: Persons who have been crewmembers and/or crew leaders during search and rescue operations and are ready to advance to the management level and/or want to be able to perform on an incident management staff, Managers of emergency response organizations who have designated responsibilities from their organizations to function as the "on-scene manager" during a lost person incident, SAR Incident Commanders and key staff personnel who would like to refresh or expand their knowledge of search and rescue management practices, SAR personnel who want to learn comprehensive and detailed information about the complexities of the lost person incident and, Community leaders who have an interest in participating in a lost person incident in one of a number of capacities.

It is recommended as prerequisites for MLPI students to have taken Fundamentals of Search and Rescue and/or Advanced Search and Rescue courses (or equivalent), Introduction to Incident Command (NIMS) IS-100 and the (NIMS) IS-200 series courses (or equivalent). (NIMS) IS-300 series may also be very helpful to the MLPI student.


  • Basic definitions and a summary of typical SAR management errors
  • Managing and Leading
  • Incident Command System for SAR Operations
  • Operational Preplanning
  • SAR Resources
  • Clue Orientation
  • Initiating the Search
  • Planning the Search
  • Gathering Subject Information
  • Predicting Lost Person Behavior
  • Establishing the Search Area
  • Setting Priorities-Assigning Probabilities of Area (POA) to the Search
  • Allocating SAR Resources-SAR Tactics
  • Measuring Coverage-Tracking Probability of Detection (POD)
  • Changing Search Priorities-Shifting POA
  • Briefing and Debriefing
  • Documentation
  • Suspending Search Operations
  • Demobilization
  • Managing Search Base Operations and Searcher Safety
  • Managing Searcher Stress
  • Managing External Influences
  • SAR Technology
  • Post Incident Considerations
  • The Role of the Agency Administrator

After Completion
An MLPI student should be able to:

  • Identify critical errors made during unsuccessful SAR missions
  • Understand the principles of managing and leading, Develop an operational preplan
  • Describe how to organize a search using the Incident Command System
  • Identify and describe effective uses of SAR resources
  • Describe the importance of finding and documenting clues
  • Initiate a search
  • Develop objectives, strategies and tactics to locate a lost subject through the use of actual search mission exercises
  • Manage on-scene basic SAR planning functions
  • Gather lost subject information through investigating and interviewing techniques
  • Describe the importance of and employ Lost Person Behavior factors in search planning
  • Understand the values of and ways to deliver preventive SAR programs
  • Establish a search area, segment the area, and assign probabilities to the segments through the use of actual search mission exercises
  • Describe tactics used in searching for lost persons
  • Compute probabilities of detection by resources applied to the search
  • Compute shifts in probability of area as a result of search and investigative activity
  • Develop and deliver tactical briefings and perform debriefings
  • Discuss the reasons for and the methods of mission documentation
  • Discuss the key factors in suspension of a mission or continuing limited searching
  • Discuss the principles and techniques of demobilization
  • Describe the functions of SAR incident facilities, location selection, and their safety considerations
  • Understand search mission related stress and its affect on SAR resources
  • Discuss considerations for managing external influences such as the media, family, political considerations, and other external influences
  • Describe the many modern technologies used in SAR missions
  • Describe post mission considerations, and the role of the agency administrator during SAR missions.