Mock Search and Fall Leaves

What is a Mock Search?

A mock search is a pretend search where all of the elements of a real search are practiced.  Practice makes perfect.  We learn about some of the challenges in a real search and learn from them in a safe setting. It is also a chance to have a bit of fun!

david goofing around

Do you like our nice Base of Operations trailer?

It comes with a fancy antenna that allows us to communicate over long distances on our radios and everything we need inside to run an entire search operation ourselves.

The very first thing that must be done at a search is sign in.  Here I am writing down all of my qualifications.  For today, I get to be an operational dog handler. Woo Hoo!

mock search sign in

A few of our team members diligently take notes during the briefing.


Only a few people know where our lost people are hiding.  Today, they came up with a doozie of a scenario:

Three folks are “missing” out in the woods.   To make things interesting, our mock search organizers made of a back story for our missing persons. Their names are Andrew, Jason, and Amy. All three are familiar with these woods and are well prepared for a nice day out hiking.  They did not return from their hike the night before and so we were called in to help Law Enforcement search the area. Supposedly Andrew and Amy are married.  They are out with a mutual friend, Jason.  Law enforcement found out through interviews that Amy might be fooling around with Jason, and Andrew likely knows about it.  Uh oh!

taking notes

Kay, running everything at base, briefs and gives out tasks to a dog team.

base giving out tasks

Here I am planning my route for my first task.

Gotta do all that nice map drawing so there is less work out in the field.  Do you notice the very important box of cookies on the table?  They did not last long. Grom, J, and I went out on a nice hour walk along a buried gas line for our first search task.  He had a great time running down the long mowed corridor, frequently leaping off in to the woods on to either side of us to check out some scent or another.  Our task ended up having no one in it.  Back to base.

jen planning her route

Seamus is ready to get this show on the road!

seamus waits

David looks like he is continuing to have a really good time.  Here he is getting a ride in the back of a nice truck.  Relaxation time.

david strikes a pose

Wow! We got a call over the radio.  One of our missing persons is found and they are injured.  Out comes the litter (a fancy word for stretcher) for an evacuation.

But first!

Gather round. A lesson for all the new people on how to properly deal with a litter. (Don’t worry, our lost person is likely catching up on some sleep or reading a book, or more likely, they are listening to really bad jokes from members of the team that found them.)

packing a litter

Alleee ooop!

empty litter

Would you like a nice ride?

One individual was brave enough to let us pack her in the litter for a little practice ride.

Here we are transferring the litter from one team to another over an obstacle. (See the chair obstacle on the ground?)

litter transfer

Now that we got the practice out of the way.  We get our boots on the ground and the litter on its way to the scene.

walking the litter 1

A nice light empty litter on a nice fall day.  Fun!

Also, very easy to carry.

smiling litter walk

We got our found “victim” strapped in and ready to go!

at the scene

Our victim provided us with more story line for our interesting mock search scenario. She had a twisted ankle and was beat up by her husband “Andrew.”  Jason freaked out and ran away while this went down.  Andrew wandered off very upset and is somewhere out there for us to find.

Our wonderful “lost” subject was let out of the litter at the road after we got some fantastic practice carrying her over and around many obstacles in the woods.  We must have done a decent job as she did not run away or throw things at us; always a good sign.

Jennifer and Grom

Now we had two more people to find.  I got Grom out of the car and got ready for my next search sector.  Grom was ready to go for a second round.  I was assigned a new team of K9 escorts and was given a small triangular sector bordered by two drainages and a road.  Lesson time!  I let my walkers handle all of the navigation and communications while I paid attention to the dog and played devil’s advocate here and there.  My two walkers rarely took the bait and successfully covered the entire sector.

While I was out having fun.  It seems that Andrew was found.

a shot sign

Looks like this search team was given some crime scene preservation practice with this guy.

As you can tell by the smile even HE was having far too much fun out in the woods.  He was out there for several hours taking nice naps and watching the wildlife while texting the other lost person, Jason.

Jason was found not long after Andrew and everyone met back at base to share what they learned about the day.  We wandered in not long after all a tad tired and big smiles on our face.  Everyone learned much that day.

I learned that my husband’s PB&J sandwiches really hit the spot.

search sammie

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