When someone goes missing in the wild, it’s often up to Search and Rescue teams to find them. But how do these teams operate? And what are the challenges they face when locating a lost hiker or climber?
Search, and Rescue teams are trained volunteers skilled in backcountry navigation and search techniques. They typically work in pairs or small groups and are dispatched by local authorities when someone is reported missing.
The first step in any Search and Rescue operation is establishing a base camp. From here, searchers will fan out along likely routes the missing person may have taken. They will look for clues such as footprints, discarded items, or even signs of struggle.
If there is no sign of the missing person, searchers will begin to expand their search area. This can be challenging, as the terrain can be rugged and difficult to navigate. In some cases, helicopters or other aircraft may be used to search from above.
Once a missing person is found, Search, and Rescue teams will work to get them to safety. This may involve hiking with them or using specialized rescue techniques to bring them down from a cliff or mountain.
Search and Rescue operations can be both physically and emotionally demanding. But it can also enrich those who are called to this work. Knowing that you’ve helped reunite a lost loved one with their family is incredible.
How do people end up getting lost?
There are some ways that people can end up getting lost in the wilderness. Sometimes, it’s simply taking a wrong turn or getting disoriented. Other times, it may be due to bad weather or an injury.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to remember that anyone can get lost. Even experienced hikers and climbers can find themselves in over their heads. That’s why it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going before heading out into the backcountry.
What are some of the challenges faced by Search and Rescue teams?
One of the biggest challenges facing Search and Rescue teams is the vastness of the areas they often have to search. This can make finding a lost person immensely difficult, especially if they are not leaving behind any clues.
Another challenge is the ruggedness of the terrain. This can make traversing the landscape difficult and impede search efforts. In some cases, rough conditions may even prevent searchers from using helicopters or other aircraft.
Finally, Search and Rescue teams often deal with difficult emotional situations. This is particularly true when searching for a child or someone with cognitive impairment.