Urban Search Management

The Urban Search Management (USM) course is designed to teach students the essential knowledge and skills necessary manage missing person searches in the urban environment. This course will prepare managers and search personnel for the specific tasks and special techniques needed for searching in the urban setting. This will include comparing and contrasting the urban/suburban/rural interface with the wilderness search processes. Discussions will start with evaluation of the pre-planning and vulnerable assessments and move into managing the urban incident from the initial hasty search through multiple operational periods. Special attention will be given to additional investigation considerations, including the modification and additional documentation required, as well as the use of SAR resources and their additional skills and training. Practice sessions and map exercises will also be part of the learning experience. The recommended duration of the course is eight (8) class hours. Extra practical exercises and additional presentations on special considerations in child abduction incidents and the dementia/Alzheimer’s wanderer searches can be added and may increase the time to 16 class hours.

Who Should Attend

The course is designed for the following types of people: 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 enhance and expand their knowledge of search and rescue management practices in an urban environment, SAR personnel who want to learn comprehensive and detailed information about the complexities of the lost person incident in urban setting 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 USM students to have taken Fundamentals of Search and Rescue and/or Advanced Search and Rescue courses, as well as Managing Lost Person Incidents (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 USM student.


  • Overview of the Urban Environment
    • Common Places for Urban Searches
  • Common Types of Lost or Missing Person Searches in the Urban Environment
    • Walk Away - Alzheimer's; Developmentally Disabled; Despondent – Suicide; Runaways and Sneak-aways; Criminal/Evidence; Parent Apathy; Abduction; Non-Searches; The Never-Ending Search; The Cancelled or Aborted Search
  • The Four Stages of an Urban Search
    • Stage I Initial Report
    • Stage 2 Initial Response
    • Stage 3 Search Team Callout
    • Stage 4 Field Search
  • Planning and Strategies
    • Preplan:
      • Vulnerability Assessment
    • Strategies:
      • Select the Appropriate Map(s)
      • Search Area Development:
      • Investigation & Interviewing
      • Rapid Media Intervention
      • Scenario Analysis
      • Public Transportation Considerations
  • Field Operations
    • The Initial Call-out
    • Containment & Confinement
    • Be On the Look Out (BOLOs)
    • Door to Door Canvassing
    • Door to Door Example Questions:
    • Yard Searches
    • Institutional Checks: Hospitals, Jail, Shelters
    • Attractive Nuisance
    • National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
    • Clue Management:
  • Briefing and Debriefing
    • Personality and Profile Information
    • Separate Urban/Suburban and Wilderness debriefing
  • Resources & Skills
    • Department Resources
    • Search Team Members
    • Dog Resources
    • Helicopter
  • Documentation
    • Media/Public fliers
    • Record keeping - door to door , back yards, outbuildings, abandon cars, not home, aggressive reception (SAR ICS Form 132)
    • Clue logs (SAR ICS Forms 134 & 135)
    • Backup for decision to go to a limited search
  • Logistics
    • Search Base
    • Communications
  • Multiple Operational Periods and Mutual Aid Resources
    • Time Line
  • Training
    • Table Tops Searches
    • Mock Field Exercises
    • Mutual Aid Training
  • Other Considerations
    • Interface with FBI and other law enforcement agencies - Liaisons
    • Managing the Spontaneous Untrained Volunteer
    • Officer Safety - Safety Officer
    • Community Alert Network (“CAN”) and Reverse 911 Systems
    • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
    • Electronic Tracking Systems
    • Safe Return programs

After Completion

An USM student should be able to:

  • Understand the primary differences between managing a search in the urban environment with searches in the wilderness setting
  • Develop urban search preplans from vulnerability assessments
  • Describe the common types of lost or missing persons search in the urban setting
  • Develop detailed strategies and tactics to locate lost or missing subject through the use of actual searches in the urban environment
  • List the most important reflex tasks and initial planning actions
  • Describe additional investigation considerations and information to be gathered specific to lost or missing persons in an urban environment
  • Describe the importance of and employ lost person behavior factors specific to urban search planning
  • Establish search areas and segments through the use of actual search mission exercises
  • Provide the additional training and safety consideration of ground personnel in door to door canvassing
  • Describe the additional training of SAR dog resources for operations in the urban environment
  • Manage the logistics and facility considerations surrounding an urban SAR operation
  • Describe the additional documentation unique to an urban SAR operation
  • Describe mutual aid consideration and managing multiple operational periods during an urban SAR incident

This is an 8 hour course with a certificate awarded for completion.

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