« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2006, 04:58:14 AM »
ICS in Practice: The AMRG Example
Here’s a narrative example ground search mission using ICS. It comes from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group (AMRG) and is worth reading to get a “feel” for just what happens on a search-and-rescue mission using the ICS structure. It demonstrates:
* How the ICS organizational chart is constantly adapting to the current conditions of the mission.
* How multiple organizational boxes can be filled by one individual.
* How span-of-control problems are handled as the mission scope increases.
Here’s the situation:
You are an experienced AMRG member. You are outbound on a hike in the Turnagain Arm area by yourself one late fall day when you are approached by a hysterical woman who has lost her four year old child on the trail, somewhere in your vicinity. You calm her down and start to plan what you are going to do. At this point, you are the entire ICS organization, the Incident Commander, the Operations Section Leader, the Logistics Section Leader, the Planning Section Leader, and all of the sub-positions under them.
The first thing you do is review the known facts, and prepare a plan. You decide a hasty search of all trails in the immediate area is called for, and that attracting signaling might bring the lost child back to the point-last-seen (PLS). You are filling the duties of the Planning Section (preparing search objectives).
The next thing you do is to perform a hasty search of the immediate area while the child's mother climbs a tree at the point last seen and calls out loud for her son. You are now filling the duties of the Operations Section (implementing tactics to meet the objectives).
Some other hikers come along, and you enlist their help, asking one of them to organize their group and extend the hasty search down a side trail to a small lake and back. You just delegated responsibilities for the first search team, expanding the size of the ICS organizational chart.
They rejoin you ten minutes later at a pre-determined meeting point with no new information on the missing child. One of them has a cell phone, so you call Alaska State Trooper (AST) Dispatch and explain the circumstances, requesting that a search mission be initiated. You are now performing the duties of the Communication Unit (under the Logistics Section).
You then ask the owner of the cell phone to stay near you in case there are any calls back from AMRG or AST. You have just delegated the responsibility for Communications Unit Leader to the owner of the cell phone.
You get a lengthy description of the missing child, the clothes she was wearing, her shoe size, and temperament. You locate some of the missing child's tracks up the trail. They were returning downhill, so you mark them with flagging to protect them. These investigation activities are part of the Planning Section's duties.
You give some flagging and a copy of your investigation notes to another hiker who passes by and ask him to flag each branch of the trail heading back to the trail head, to give the notes to the Alaska State Trooper when he shows up, and to then help lead the search teams that will soon be assembling back to the point-last-seen. You then continue your hasty trail search in the area with the civilian volunteers.
As more civilian volunteers pass by, you enlist their help and give them jobs to do, running the entire operation as IC at the PLS. When an AST trooper arrives at the trailhead, he calls you on the cell phone, and discusses the status of the missing child. You relinquish IC control to the Trooper, but still fill all of the other Section positions.
As AMRG and Nordic Ski Patrol members arrive at the trailhead, most section duties (Planning, Logistics, and Operations) are moved to individuals at the trail head, and you relinquish all responsibilities except those as a field team leader over a group of AMRG searchers.
Since the beginning of the mission, you have held numerous and often multiple ICS positions as circumstances require. The shifting of positions and the filling of multiple organizational boxes is a key factor in the ability of the ICS system to adapt to the immediate needs of any size or type of mission.
As the search really winds up now, additional positions in the ICS organization chart are filled. In base camp now, the Trooper IC asks AMRG members to assume leadership of all remaining sections in the ICS. AMRG assigns it's most experienced members to the following sections:
Planning Section: This section develops the following search objectives for the first operational period (Day 1, noon to midnight):
* a) Identify the largest area the missing child could possibly be in given the hours she was missing and her maximum estimated speed of travel. This area becomes the primary search area.
* b) Prevent the child from leaving the primary search area.
* c) Determine if the child is on one of the many trails in the primary search area.
* d) Perform a search beginning at the PLS (point last seen) that has a 50% POD (probability of detection) for an alert and conscious child traveling in a down hill direction. This search should cover as much territory as possible with the given resources on hand.
* e) Identify specific hazard areas within .25 miles of the PLS (bodies of water, steep cliffs, etc.) and perform a search with 80% POD for an unconscious child in these areas.
* f) Prepare a contingency plan for an expanded search effort tomorrow if the child is not found today.
Operations Section: This section attempts to meet the objectives of the planning section by developing and implementing tactics. The Operations Section reacts to each of the objectives by using the following tactics:
* a) Uses information from the mother and topographic maps of the area to identify a primary search area.
* b) Positions two man teams on each trail leaving the primary search area. Some of these teams are flown in, some hike in from other trail heads, and some are positioned by sending them in with hasty trail search teams. These teams are instructed to blow whistles, sing songs, and build fires in high, clear spots on the trail (attractive signaling), and be prepared to spend the night if necessary.
* c) Twenty of the forty volunteer searchers that show up for the mission are divided into five four man teams and sent out to perform hasty searches of the trails, starting at the PLS. One team is sent uphill on the trail from the PLS.
* d) The remaining 50% of the volunteer searchers are sent to the PLS to begin a more detailed search of the hazards in that area (bodies of water, cliffs).
Logistics Section: This section begins taking care of all of the logistic details involved in a large and growing search, including:
* Checking in people to base camp as they arrive.
* Setting up and managing radio communications for the search.
* Ordering up the Red Cross food van to provide food and drink to search staff.
* Calling up additional volunteers who were not available for today's operation to see if they can report tomorrow if they are still needed (for both IC staffing and field operations).
* Checking to see that medical resources are on hand in case the child is found injured, or in case a searcher is accidentally injured.
As the search continues toward midnight (dark now for five hours) with no results, the following activities happen:
The Planning Section prepares objectives for the next operational period, the first night. These objectives include:
* Prevent the subject from leaving the primary search area via trail.
* Continue helicopter search efforts using the FLIR as weather and pilot duty hours permits.
* Maintain attractive signaling fires on trails and high ground.
* Return field searchers to base camp for feed and rest.
* Mobilize a search force of at least 200 additional searchers for the following operational period.
The Operations Section implements tactics to meet the objectives:
* Field searchers are brought into base camp to rest for the night.
* The Logistics Section calls out the volunteers identified as being needed the following day.
* The two man teams manning the trails leaving the primary search area are instructed to take turns sleeping, and manning the attractive signaling fire all night, and to turn off their radios, except for a short check in every two hours.
* The AST helicopter is staffed with a fresh pilot and continues to search all night long.
* The Planning section interviews each team leader returning from the field and logs the results of their efforts (clues found, area searched, estimated POD for each area, etc.).
* A fresh IC is placed in charge for the remainder of the night, and he is supported by one fresh Planning Section chief. The two of them function during the remainder of the night as the entire IC staff, monitoring the radio, and jointly preparing objectives and tactics for the following morning when hundreds of additional searchers arrive.
The following morning, fresh volunteers arrive at the base camp. Some are added to the IC staff, others are sent into the field to implement the tactics of the day's search efforts. The cycle continues until the missing child is found.