5 Rad Reasons to Attend a Mock Search

You do search and rescue because you love it. How often do you get a chance to actually play while on a search? Exactly! You don’t, unless you go on a Mock Search.

1. It’s Not an Emergency

Practice everything you need to in a search situation without all of the pressure. Only in a mock search can you have all the trappings of a real one without a person being in real danger.

It feels real

A mock search will have all of the trappings of a real search.  You will have a briefing, debriefing, communications, evacuation, confusion, tasks, and a plethora of different search people of all skill levels involved.  Even though everyone is role playing, the scene will be good enough to put your brain into adrenaline spiked search mode focus.  Take note of how your mind and body reacts to the situation, keep this in mind for when you go on a real search. Observe the search scene closely. Are you noticing things you would easily miss on a real search?  Slow down and take the time to let it all soak in.

It’s ok to make mistakes

The purpose of a mock search is to test how well we all do our jobs and find ways to improve.  Now is the time for you to make mistakes and learn from them.  Be bold, try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them.

It’s ok to work slower

When you arrive on the search scene, be deliberate in everything you do. Slow down and practice doing everything as best as it can be done. Think if it can be done a different way and try that too. When you are at base, take extra time asking questions and setting up for your task. Throughout the day you can repack your bag, fiddle with options on your gps, take extensive notes, draw a detailed map of your task, practice natural navigation, try your hand at sign cutting, and really take a good detailed look at your topo map. Take the time to evaluate what really works and what doesn’t.

2. Expand Your World

A mock search is a perfect place to network.  Take the opportunity to talk to other search people.  You can meet other search team members, law enforcement, logistics personnel, support people, local folks, and more. Find out what these people do on a search.  What are their roles and responsibilities? Use the information you learn to make both your job easier and their job easier.

The way someone else does something might just be solution you were looking for. Compare notes with other search members to learn how they do things.

This is also a great opportunity to play with different kinds of gear and gadgets. Thinking about getting a new pack or gps?  Ask others what they use and try them out!

Be sure to bring lots of homemade or professional business cards with your SAR email address so you may get in touch with your new friends once you get home.

3. Be a Teacher

The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.  Search out a new recruit or even a member of the public and show them how to use a map and compass or look for clues. Grab a member of a non k9 search team and show them how your dog works or even better find someone from base who writes your tasks and share how to best write a task that will best best for you.

Does your family wonder what it is like for you to go on a search? Find out from the mock search coordinators if it is okay to bring them along. Make a game of it for your family and do everything as you would for a real search.  You can even go so far as to set your alarm for the middle of the night and pretend you are getting a real call out.  Have others help you take notes and find the location of the base on the map, gather your gear, pack the car, and navigate your way to the search.

A mock search is an ideal place to show the public how to be safe in the woods and to interest them in search and rescue. Set up a table with your brochures, pictures, and information for the public to peruse.  You may also take turns giving demonstrations and outdoor safety talks. It might just save a life!

4. Test the Weird

A mock search allows you to make mistakes without the consequences.  You can use the opportunity to work slow. Consciously think about each and every action you do. Is it the best way to do something?  Can you improve on how you pack your bag, how you make notes, what you bring with you?  Use this opportunity try different ways to do things and take notes.

Often, mock searches are used to train for unusual situations such as crime scenes, difficult evacuations, misinformation, communication problems, crazy family members, unusual medical situations, and more. Have a little fun with this and get some fake blood, set up an elaborate fake crime scene, or even hire an actor to play an intoxicated or unusual missing person. Be sure to take good notes on what your reactions were, what you did, what others did, and how it can be done better to share with those who did not attend the mock search.

5. Wear Someone Else’s Shoes

Ok, not literally, EW!  A mock search has lots of fun roles for you to play.  You can pretend to be a pushy reporter, a crazy criminal, a hysterical family member, or an injured lost person. If search members are exposed to the nightmares on a practice search they will be far more prepared when the real things occurs.

Have you ever wondered what the incident commander, communications, law enforcement, technical rescue, civil air patrol, base, or public information officer does at a search?  Ask them to show you the ropes for a few hours. The more you know, the better SAR member you will be.

Bonus Reason

I could not let this article end without adding the most important reason of all, it’s Fun!

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