Author Archive

Submitted by Mona Hand, GTA lead tracking instructor:
GTA participated in a joint training event with the Alpha Team K9 SAR group
on Saturday, April 7th, at Red Top Park. We did some tracking, learned about
ATSAR, and participated in typical SAR dog training activities. Mark Young,
Bruce Mangan and I met up with Joel Barrett at 7:30 am at Red Top Mountain.
Joel has joint membership in GTA and ATSAR, and he is VP of the ATSAR team.
Joel coordinated the joint training event for us.

We set up a couple of sign lines and went to work while ATSAR conducted their
own preliminary training activities nearby in the park.  We had very damp conditions
that often left us wondering about how resilient and pliable the leaves and twigs
were.  If we had laid the sign in the afternoon, we would have had a very different
sign line once the sun came up and things were drying out.  A little before noon,
we went over to see what ATSAR was doing.  I got the chance to follow a couple
different dog teams while they trained.  Those dog teams move fast!  It was really
fascinating to see the trail dogs in action.

Mark and Bruce got to check out the HR dogs (human remains).  There were
several stations set up for the dogs to train on and we followed along on all of
them. It was a great day to be outside and awesome to get some dirt time in as
well as meet and train with with our K9 folks.

Thanks Joel and ATSAR, for including us in this event.

An interesting little article  found on the web by our local CSI guy, Ken C :

Aging of Shoes and its Effect on
Shoeprint Impressions
From the Journal of Forensic Identification
Vol. 55, No. 2, March/April 2005*
J. Matney Wyatt
Katie Duncan
Michael A. Trimpe
Hamilton County Coroner�s Laboratory
Cincinnati, OH

We had an intimate group for training on Saturday at the Wildcat WMA near Big Canoe. After breakfast at the huddle house Ken Miller and I met Mark Young and went over to the Wildcat WMA. The other two Ken’s in our group tried valiantly to make it but sometimes life just gets in the way. The weather when we arrived was overcast and about 47 degrees. It promised to rain – probably sooner rather than later. In the morning, we attempted to track random folks from their cars into the park. We went into an area with multiple prints and spent a good bit of time dissecting the prints into which pattern went with which print. We observed where someone had walked over to the creek bank and went down to the water’s edge and then stood around for a while (logical thing to do for a fisherman) and then climbed back up and left. It was very interesting to see the effects of the freeze and subsequent thaw on the ground. The freezing of the moisture in the soil to form ice crystals withdraws water from soil and creates shrinking and swelling of the soil. At first glance, these areas of disturbance looked like animal or a person had been there but it was the separating of the soil from the freeze-thaw effect. Mark had a good term for this but I can’t recall it at this moment.

After lunch at Fuegos, Ken Miller was kind enough to lay some tracks for us to follow. A light rain had just started and the lighting was horrible for tracking. This did allow for an illuminating – hee, hee- discussion on good tracking flashlights and why a tracker never has enough flashlights. The humidity had been high all day and with the steady light rain, our sign seemed to be vanishing before our eyes. Tracking fresh sign on damp leaf cover was tough. Definitely one of those days where you learned more from the problems than you did from the successes. Luckily, the torrential downpour we were expecting never came. All in all it was a great day and a great start to our year.

Next Tracking Training Feb. 20th – location TBD. Any ideas?

Can you find the sign in this picture?


Members of GTA attended the FIRST Lost Person Behavior Class taught in Georgia on Dec 12-13, 2009 at the Hall County EOC.


The class was taught by Jim Greenway and Ed Nance, both of who attended a week long training course in Virginia, taught by Robert Koester.

The information presented represents the  “Bleeding Edge” for lost person searches.   We focused on search subject classification and associated real word statistics for over 50,001 actual searches.  The data included the following :

  • Distance from the IPP/LKP where the person was found
  • Mobility Hours – How long the person moved before stopping
  • Dispersion Angle (from original path)
  • Track Offset – Distance from the original path that the person was located
  • Survivability for a particular category based on time
  • Initial Reflex Tasking Checklists based on Category
  • Investigative questions specific to Category

In addition to learning how to use the data included in Koester’s book “Lost Person Behavior” we had several tabletop exercises using actual SAR missions.

This class was extremely valuable, especially when you incorporate the data as part of your initial Search Urgency calculation and Reflex Tasking assignments.  In addition to the traditional “Wheel Model” of Reflex Tasks, we also learned about a cutting edge strategy of corridor searches as an additional part of the Reflex Tasking steps.

Here are the steps in Reflex Tasking :

1. Look, Listen and acquire information.  This is done from a combination of theoretical, statistical and deductive work and a quickie consensus process.  Get the map out.

2. Start to follow the “Wheel Model” for Reflex tasking.  Starting with the HUB and BEARINGS.  Saturate the hub out to the 25% probability circle or 300 meters.  If the hub and bearing fail, so does everything else.

3. The RIM – Establish Containment based on a combination of theoretical, statistical and deductive work.

4. The SPOKES – These represent possible routes from the IPP (paths, roads, trails, powerlines, fence lines, power lines, etc).  Get qualified, clue conscious searches to rapidly conduct hasty searches along the spokes.  These hasty teams also provide real-time info on decision points along the hasty route.

5. The REFLECTORS – Check likely spots of attraction for the particular category of lost person.

6. If the subject is not located as part of the above reflex tasks, then consider deploying trained searches to conduct a “Corridor Search” along the hasty search routes (depending on category of person you are looking for).  Early data shows that this is a incredibly valuable technique that can rapidly either find the person or at a minimum reduce the search area by a substantial percentage.  A corridor search is basically a search along and a certain distance (based on Koester’s data) either side of the spokes already hasty searched above.

Other take away’s include always being aware of potential “Scenario Lock”.

All in all, it was an excellent class and big kudos to Jim and Ed for making this available.

Persons attended included folks from Hall County SAR, Georgia Trackers Alliance, Hall County Sheriff’s Dept, Alpha Team SAR, Appalachian Trail Club SAR team and Chatham County EMA/CERT.


koester_lostpersonDecember 12-13, 2009 (Sat-Sun) 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Hall EOC, 470 Crescent Drive, Gainesville, GA 30501

Course Cost $30.00 (includes book and workbook)

Instructors: Jim Greenway & Ed Nance, the only two Georgia residents certified by the author, Robert J. Koester, to teach the course.

Notify Ed Nance ( for one of the thirty seats.

Participants will not only gain a full understanding of 41 subject categories contained within the Lost Person Behavior profiles, which have been compiled from the latest search and rescue incident statistics from the International Search and Rescue Incident Database (ISRID), but also receive a workbook along with in-depth instruction and case studies that goes above and beyond the just the book. The class is limited to 30 participants. Hall County Agencies will be given first choice to 11/20, and then will be offered throughout Northeast Georgia.

Lost person behavior is the cornerstone of search and rescue efforts. Based upon a landmark study, this book is the definitive guide to solving the puzzle of where a lost person might be found. Nowhere else is it possible to learn about the latest subject categories, behavioral profiles, up to date statistics, suggested initial tasks, and specialized investigative questions. This book delivers what search managers need.

Lost Person Behavior provides the reader with:

  • An indispensable book that can be used as a field reference (special rugged binding allows the book to lay flat) and an essential library reference
  • The latest search and rescue incident statistics from the International Search & Rescue Incident Database (ISRID), which contains over 50,000 SAR incidents
  • New detailed behavioral profiles that give insight into what drives the basic behaviors of lost people
  • Statistics based upon ecoregions to best match your specific search areas
  • New types of statistical information; find location, scenario analysis, mobility time, survivability, elevation changes, track offset, dispersion angles, plus classic statistics such as distance from the initial planning point
  • The ability to pinpoint the most likely areas to search, then determine initial tasks quickly using reflex tasking, the bike wheel model, and quick consensus.

Robert Koester’s ground-breaking research has made a science of the study of lost person behavior. This book underscores the importance of that science. Lost Person Behavior is an indispensable part of any rescuer’s library.

-Charley Shimanski, President Mountain Rescue Association

** UPDATE – SARCON 2010 has been Cancelled **

Georgia SARCON (Search & Rescue Conference) RETURNS on Jan 29-31, 2010 !!!!!!!!!

After a one year hiatus, the well received SARCON is returning to Georgia.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn from fellow professionals in the Georgia SAR community.

Georgia Search & Rescue Trackers

Georgia Search & Rescue Trackers




– Friday night: KEYNOTE ADDRESS, Mark Eggeman, State SAR Coordinator Operations Division, Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Mr. Eggeman will provide insight into the well established Virginia State Search and Rescue program, and discuss the necessary steps to develop a broader SAR capability. He will also discuss how volunteers are best utilized in a statewide SAR program.

GROUP SESSION TWO – Saturday night: Organized movie night. Fun-filled networking opportunity.


TRACK I – SAR Management

: The SAR management track is for those people who will actually be directing a search operation. This assumes you are with an agency that responds to search incidents or are preparing to join one. Prerequisites include FEMA online courses, NIMS ICS 100, 200 & 809. The course is designed to provide the skills necessary to properly initiate search operations and manage a growing search incident.

TRACK II – SAR Operations and Tactics:

This track is designed for those who understand basic search and rescue topics and desire to learn more about SAR operations, tactics and the SAR ready pack. Those wishing to challenge the NASAR SAR TECH II exam at the conclusion of this course may take the written NASAR certification test for an additional fee of $60/NASAR member, $75/Non-member, and participate in the practical skills review and ready-pack check. If attempting the NASAR SARTECH II certification, it is necessary that you are familiar with course materials, own the required 24-hour ready pack, and have all the required contents.

TRACK III – Intro to SAR:

This track is designed for those who would like an introduction into Search and Rescue topics. This will provide a high level overview and provide an opportunity to obtain NASAR SAR TECH III certification. Those wishing to challenge the NASAR SAR TECH III exam at the conclusion of this course may take the written NASAR certification test for an additional fee of $60/NASAR member, $75/Non-member. It is highly recommended that participants be familiar with course materials prior to the beginning of class and use this course only as a review if attempting certification

TRACK IV – Resources:

Plan to attend sessions in this Section in order to meet and learn from experts in areas that can support SAR efforts including: GEMA, GSAR, IMT, GSDF, GBI CAT, GTA and others. Specific times are not yet available and specific groups have not been finalized. These will be posted as soon as available.


Commercial vendors dealing in equipment used in the SAR environment will be invited to display their products and promote their services. Additionally, public safety agencies will be invited to offer equipment displays. Two sessions per day will be scheduled to conference participants to visit with vendors, in addition to regular meal and break periods.

If you are interested in Search & Rescue in Georgia, you need to be at SARCON 2010.

Click the link below to get the “Official” Registration form, with all the details, including the cost, lodging and other important info.

SARCON 2010 – Registration Form

If you see any of us staring intently down at the dirt :-), stop by and introduce yourself.  We want to meet you.

Here is the document outlining the location, time and other info for our monthly tracking training event for Sep 19, 2009

GTA Sep 19 2009 Training Info

Sep 19 Training Doc

For Immediate Release



For Immediate Release –

Back by popular request! The Friends of DNR-SAR board is hosting Georgia’s third Annual Search and Rescue Conference, scheduled for January 29th-30th, 2010 at the FFA Camp near Covington Georgia.

Please make plans to attend this important opportunity to network with other Search and Rescue professionals from around the state and to share in a national exchange of ideas and training. Our focus for this event will be to assist individuals in achieving higher levels of SAR certification; helping Georgia SAR teams achieve FEMA team typing status. SARCON 2010 will also provide important insight into SAR resources available right now in Georgia, and to maximize our exposure to national topics of interest in the SAR community, while providing an excellent forum for networking and interaction between individuals, SAR teams and SAR related vendors.


• Event: SARCON 2010

• Sponsor: The volunteer board of the Friends of Georgia DNR-SAR

• Location: Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center, Covington, GA

• Date: January 29th – 31st, 2010

• Registration: information will be posted on websites and emailed to a broad email distribution near October 1st.

• Rooms: Bunk and Semi-private rooms

• Classes: First come, first serve, no advance sign-up required (enjoy the flexibility to attend classes that best fit your needs without committing to a particular track).

Education Tracks Offered:

1. Intro To SAR with SAR-Tech III challenge

2. Intro to SAR-Tech II with SAR-Tech II challenge

3. SAR Management

4. Georgia SAR Resources

NOTE: Attendees wishing to challenge the SAR-Tech II test must come prepared with a solid grasp of core SAR concepts; having studied available materials and skills, and you must have a qualified ready pack with you that will pass inspection. A brief review will be provided but will not be sufficient to prepare for the SARTECH Written and Practical tests. An additional fee, (payable to NASAR) is also required. Likewise, attendees wishing to challenge the SAR-Tech III test should purchase and read the latest FUNSAR text (available from NASAR) before attending SARCON,, in addition to the SAR Introduction and review that will be provided during the conference. An additional fee (payable to NASAR) will also be required to take the SAR-Tech III exam.

Cost: All inclusive rate of $160. Cash, check or money order. Thursday night check-in is available for an additional $17. Rate includes room, breaks, meals, Saturday Night Steak Dinner, and conference materials.

Mark Young presented a brief introduction to Man Tracking and the importance of it’s early use in missing person incidents. The class was one of the best I’ve ever attended, in no small part due to the lead instructors – Bob Bolz and Allen Padgett. Their real world experience was priceless.
On Sunday we were joined by other DNR SAR Team members, including Mark. In addition to the man tracking presentation (made in record time 🙂 ), the other DNR members assisted in a series of tabletop exercises, using actual mission scenarios from past Georgia missing person searches.