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Control measure

Co-ordinated search plan: Flooding

Control measure knowledge

There is an established hierarchy of search activities for wide area disasters which is also applicable to floods. Initial reconnaissance is about developing intelligence to inform where to search, creating a common operating picture (COP) and directing mobile, uninjured survivors to reception centres. No rescue activity is normally conducted during the initial reconnaissance phase.

Hasty search

An initial search to identify the location of easily found casualties and perform very simple rescues or extrications. Focus on the search and request resources to provide the rescue response.

Primary search

House to house type activities, typically using shout and listen techniques as well as quick visual sweeps to look for casualties. Focus on the collection of intelligence such as the number of people in a building and survivor needs assessment.

Secondary search – Low coverage

A more detailed search including the movement of debris in buildings, clearing street debris to find casualties and a detailed search of debris in areas away from human habitation to find missing people.

Secondary search – High coverage

Full entry into all parts of building with the removal of debris – no further search activity to be conducted on completion. Removal of all debris from areas with human habitation. Extensive search of other debris to ensure a high coverage search, move debris from one place to another to ensure it is searched. This would usually be conducted during the later stages of the response phase or as part of the recovery phase. The nature of these searches would usually be to locate flood casualties and the protection and recovery of evidence should be a considered to support the relevant authorities.

Aerial search

Aerial assets, including helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial systems (drones), may be used to search larger areas.

Some aerial assets may be suitable for transferring search teams or equipment to hot spots or lily pads. Lily pads may also be used as a temporary area of relative safety for evacuees.

See Control measure – Specialist resource: Helicopter

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Liaise with local authorities or emergency planning groups to develop multi-agency arrangements for search procedures

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Work with emergency services and multi-agency responders to co-ordinate search response

  • Identify the casualty's level of consciousness and offer reassurance where possible

  • Establish casualty details (name, age, sex, size, clothing, state of mind, swimmer, floating, sub-surface)