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Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Control measure

National Resilience: Urban search and rescue work plan

Control measure knowledge

To manage the delivery of the USAR function on behalf of the incident commander, a USAR TacAd should liaise with the incident commander to develop a USAR work plan. This level of support will increase with any escalation of the incident unless or until a USAR co-ordination cell (UCC) is implemented.

The urban search and rescue (USAR) tactical adviser (TacAd), unit leaders or UCC should develop and implement search and rescue strategies and tactics. These are detailed in a USAR work plan and recorded on ‘USAR 02 Tactical Work Plan Form’. The USAR work plan should be discussed and agreed with the incident commander, and be consistent with the overall incident objectives and action plan to ensure:

  • There are suitable arrangements to ensure the safety of all personnel, including the deployment of structural monitoring and its results and nomination of a USAR safety officer.
  • Prioritisation of rapid casualty extrications where possible
  • Effective management and co-ordination of USAR operations
  • Effective and documented dynamic and analytical risk assessment
  • Improved use and co-ordination of USAR resources and specialist personnel
  • Provision of a clear overview for all responding agencies
  • Assistance from other agencies, such as structural engineers, is incorporated into the USAR response
  • The provision of simultaneous 24-hour multiple-site search and rescue operations

The USAR work plan is used to identify the operational objectives for a work period, including the number of operational sectors and work sites to which USAR resources will be deployed. USAR operations will be conducted by using the assessment, search and rescue (ASR) levels as a framework, with the addition of specific objectives if required.

The USAR unit leader or group response co-ordinator should advise the incident commander when each of the objectives of the plan has been carried out. However, it is likely that ASR levels may run concurrently across multiple sectors, dependent on the size and scale of the incident.

ASR levels are a key element of the USAR co-ordination methodology, being a means of clearly identifying and defining every level or type of work needed during a major USAR response. This can range from the initial assessment through to body recovery or site clearance.

ASR levels are primarily used by USAR teams to define operational levels and needs for specific worksites, allowing the UCC to manage planning and tasking of USAR team workloads, and logistical and relief requirements. The implementation of ASR levels, as USAR becomes more embedded in the incident, will support the incident command structure while working through the six stages of rescue.

Strategic actions

National Resilience should:
  • Provide USAR guidance material and supporting documentation for completion by specialist responders

  • Provide resources to facilitate simultaneous 24-hour multiple-site search and rescue operations

  • Maintain a register of other agencies that may be able to assist with USAR operations

  • Request assistance from other agencies if required, using agreed protocols

Tactical actions

Specialist responders should:
  • Liaise with the incident commander to develop a USAR work plan

  • Advise the incident commander when each of the objectives of the plan has been carried out