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Searching for Lost Kids

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by Tom Jones, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. Tom Jones

    Tom Jones Guest

    from the Morning Report, relevant to a recent thread...

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park Successful Search for Autistic Boy

    A five-year-old autistic boy who was vacationing in the Gatlinburg area with his family was reported missing from the Westgate Resort near Foothills Parkway around 10 a.m. on August 15th. The boy's parents were packing the family car and getting ready to return home. Their son, who suffers from severe autism, was playing by himself at the side of the cabin. After making several trips to load the vehicle, the parents went to check on the boy, but could not find him. The cabin adjoins a densely wooded area with a steep uphill grade leading into the woods. The boy's parents franticly searched the immediate area for several minutes, then contacted the resort office for help. Members of the resort security patrol helped search for him for about 20 minutes before contacting Gatlinburg PD. City officers and firefighters continued the search, bringing in volunteers, ATV's, search dogs, and a helicopter. Horse and foot trails and the surrounding woods were unsystematically searched for several hours without any results. At about 2 p.m., the park was contacted and assistance was solicited. Under an approved memorandum of agreement with Gatlinburg, four rangers and a trail crew worker responded. A unified command was set up with Gatlinburg PD and Gatlinburg FD; supervisory ranger Steve Kloster served as incident commander for the park. By the time park staff arrived on scene, all signs and physical evidence from the point last seen (PLS) had been destroyed. By using standard search principles, however, a more systemic approach to the search operation was adopted. At about 4 p.m., four NPS employees were searching an assigned area about one mile from the PLS. Out in front of them was a dog and handler from North Carolina. The handler thought he heard a slight whimper up the hill in front of him and checked it out. He spotted the child up the steep grade and about 30 feet up a tree. Rangers arrived on scene within a few minutes; three of them climbed the tree, stationed themselves at intervals, and passed the child down to a ranger on the ground. The child was unharmed and was returned to his family without further incident. After walking away from the cabin, the boy had gone uphill through dense vegetation, traveled over a mile from the PLS, and climbed 30 feet up a tree. The dog handler said that the dog alerted on the base of the tree, but not until the handler climbed the ridge attempting to locate the whimpering sound.

    Lessons learned:

    --Before saturating the area with untrained searchers, use a skilled man-tracking team to scout for sign.

    --Conduct a thorough lost person profile (it was learned later that the boy liked to climb trees).

    --Employ personnel trained and skilled in search principles early in the search operation, and

    --Employ personnel familiar with the geographic area early in the search operation.

    [Submitted by Rick Brown, District Ranger]
  2. Well now. The security people they thought they knew it all (they've got lots of badges). The Gattlinburg PD, thought they knew it all (more badges). The FD's definitely got some cool badges and pins and certificates and they probably thought they knew it all. The first question in each of their heads was "well why didn't you call us earlier?' Sure as shootin' in the end it was the Park Service who finally got everybody to organize.

    I notice that the "lessons learned" did not include "refuse help".

    Oh yeah, did I hear the term 'unified command"? Pretty damed important. If you're not familiar with this term it wouldn't hurt to spend a few minutes taking the FEMA Incident Command or NIMS course. They're free and can be accessed off the FEMA website, Emergency Management Institute.



    Tom Jones tom@jrat.com> wrote: from the Morning Report, relevant to a recent thread...

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park Successful Search for Autistic Boy

    A five-year-old autistic boy who was vacationing in the Gatlinburg area with his family was reported missing from the Westgate Resort near Foothills Parkway around 10 a.m. on August 15th. The boy's parents were packing the family car and getting ready to return home. Their son, who suffers from severe autism, was playing by himself at the side of the cabin. After making several trips to load the vehicle, the parents went to check on the boy, but could not find him. The cabin adjoins a densely wooded area with a steep uphill grade leading into the woods. The boy's parents franticly searched the immediate area for several minutes, then contacted the resort office for help. Members of the resort security patrol helped search for him for about 20 minutes before contacting Gatlinburg PD. City officers and firefighters continued the search, bringing in volunteers, ATV's, search dogs, and a helicopter. Horse and foot trails and the surrounding woods were unsystematically searched for several hours without any results. At about 2 p.m., the park was contacted and assistance was solicited. Under an approved memorandum of agreement with Gatlinburg, four rangers and a trail crew worker responded. A unified command was set up with Gatlinburg PD and Gatlinburg FD; supervisory ranger Steve Kloster served as incident commander for the park. By the time park staff arrived on scene, all signs and physical evidence from the point last seen (PLS) had been destroyed. By using standard search principles, however, a more systemic approach to the search operation was adopted. At about 4 p.m., four NPS employees were searching an assigned area about one mile from the PLS. Out in front of them was a dog and handler from North Carolina. The handler thought he heard a slight whimper up the hill in front of him and checked it out. He spotted the child up the steep grade and about 30 feet up a tree. Rangers arrived on scene within a few minutes; three of them climbed the tree, stationed themselves at intervals, and passed the child down to a ranger on the ground. The child was unharmed and was returned to his family without further incident. After walking away from the cabin, the boy had gone uphill through dense vegetation, traveled over a mile from the PLS, and climbed 30 feet up a tree. The dog handler said that the dog alerted on the base of the tree, but not until the handler climbed the ridge attempting to locate the whimpering sound.

    Lessons learned:

    --Before saturating the area with untrained searchers, use a skilled man-tracking team to scout for sign.

    --Conduct a thorough lost person profile (it was learned later that the boy liked to climb trees).

    --Employ personnel trained and skilled in search principles early in the search operation, and

    --Employ personnel familiar with the geographic area early in the search operation.

    [Submitted by Rick Brown, District Ranger]



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