Light Search and Rescue

Introduction and Unit Overview

Search and rescue consists of three separate operations:

  • Sizeup involves assessing the situation and determining a safe action plan.
  • Search involves locating victims and documenting their location.
  • Rescue involves the procedures and methods required to extricate the victims.

Experience from previous disasters has shown that immediately after almost every disaster, the first response to trapped victims is by spontaneous, untrained, and well-intentioned persons who rush to the site of a collapse in an attempt to free the victims.

More often than not, these spontaneous rescue efforts result in serious injuries and compounded problems.

However well-meaning, rescue efforts should be planned and practiced in advance.

The decision to attempt a rescue should be based on two factors:

  • The risks involved to the rescuer
  • The overall goal of doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people

The goals of search and rescue operations are to:

  • Rescue the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
  • Rescue lightly trapped victims first.

The most important person in a rescue attempt is the rescuer.

Effective search and rescue operations hinge on:

  • Effective size up.
  • Rescuer safety.
  • Victim safety.

This unit will focus on the components of an effective search and rescue operation—sizeup, search, and rescue—and the methods and techniques that rescuers can use to locate and safely remove victims.


At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  • Identify size up requirements for potential search and rescue situations.
  • Describe the most common techniques for searching a structure.
  • Use safe techniques for debris removal and victim extrication.
  • Describe ways to protect rescuers during search and rescue operations.

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