When we are called out to searches for missing persons, it's not just a case of heading out and looking anywhere and everywhere.
We always spend 5-10 minutes profiling the 'Misper' in order to give us a clue as to where they might be and to make our search as effective as it can be. Studies have shown that whilst a missing 12 year old might do one thing when lost, an 85 year old with, for example, early onset of dementia might do something else.
The former demographic tends to stay to marked routes and paths, and could be located upto 12km from their last known position (LKP) whereas the latter tends to head in straight lines, regardless of terrain and will only stop when they reach a physical barrier that is insurmountable. Invariably they will be no more than a few hundred metres away. Despondent people characteristically behave in a different manner, and young children different again.
All of this profiling information is taken in to account, along with the time since last sighting, the weather conditions, the number of team members available, other resources available etc and a search plan emerges. We also think about the equipment a Coastguard Rescue Office needs to take out on a search, including PPE, first aid kit, torch, VHF radio etc.
Tonight's training was around building that search plan and giving everyone a chance to input into it. Next time it might be for real.