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Ohio Special Response Search Team – Winter & Night Search Video

The Ohio Special Response Team regularly practices conducting searches in all weather and light conditions. This video is a sample of our team conducting high speed “rapid” search of a wooded area as well as the location, and recovery / extraction, of a mock “hunter” who has fallen out of a tree stand and become lodged in the crotch of a tree. In this instance, we're operating in 10+ inches of snow and 13 degree weather at night.

The Rapid Search technique allows us to more clearly delineate specifics of a search area. It helps narrow down the full scope of a given search while providing an excellent opportunity to very quickly locate a missing individual. Individuals conducting this type of preliminary search are trained in tracking as well as identifying clues of an individual's passage through the area. As noted, their job is to quickly narrow down the area to the most likely locations for a more focused search. Also note: Although this effort narrows down the focus, it doesn't preclude additional expansion of the search parameters as determined by the full search team.

Frequently, depending on the timing of the lost person alert, the OSRT K-9 units are called upon to conduct the rapid search. Their actions are slightly different than the typical rapid search team in that they follow the scent trail. An absolute critical element of any scent-related search is to get the K-9s on site before dozens of people tromp through the location. Unfortunately, fewer than 1 in 30 search alerts bring qualified search K-9s into play before scent trail begins to dissipate.

Caveat: OSRT responds to search incidents where the individual is expected to be on foot, or in a manual transportation conveyance such as a bicycle. The given search can be in an urban or rural environment. With missing individuals who are suspected to be in a car, OSRT K-9s can frequently track them up until they enter the vehicle, then resume the track when the empty vehicle is located.

Now, back to the video: The full search team follows the rapid team by conducting a thorough search of the most likely areas identified. In this case, the team quickly moves to the likely area, then spreads out to conduct a thorough line search for the individual. Concurrently, members of the OSRT team, or AHJ representatives, will establish containment perimeters surrounding the search area. These containment lines of sight drastically reduce the potential for the missing person to slip outside the search area without being noticed.

In the video, when the search team locates the trapped hunter, they utilize the equipment in their response packs to rig a high line to hoist him vertically, thus clearing his trapped arm from the crotch of the tree, then lowering him to the ground. The victim is provided emergency first aid, immobilizing the damages shoulder, then he's carefully packed into a thermal burrito on a stretcher. Once secured, the team extracts the victim to a waiting ambulance or EMT squad.

Members of the Ohio Special Response Team are credentialed through such recognized organizations as the National Association for Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue Association, National Land Search School, Lost Person Behavior Analysis, FEMA, and others. The OSRT Team is nominally headquartered in Mansfield, Ohio, but we have seven units dispersed across Ohio. A key differentiation for OSRT is that the team regularly practices a wide range of actual rescue scenarios. Much like your local volunteer fire department, members of OSRT are constantly training, both in the classroom and in the field, to respond whenever they are needed.


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