Alert Officer by Sm5dWLv


									A Distance Learning Course through the Appalachian
                      Search & Rescue Conference
                             February 2009 Edition
 This is the ASRC’s first attempt at a
  distance learning course.
 The slide show represents an expanded
  form of the slide show that would normally
  be used to lecture on this topic in person –
  however, it has to have the entire lecture
  written out on it, since I’m not there to give
 If you have any feedback on the course,
  please feel free to email it to
   What is an Alert Officer?
     The Alert Officer (AO) is the first contact
      point between the ASRC and an external
     The AO is responsible for the initial phases
      of the ASRC call-out procedures, including
      finding a suitable agency representative
      (AR) and initiating conference dispatch.
   What do I need to do to become an AO?
     Be an ASRC FTL
     Have completed MLSO/MSO/MSF/equivalent
     Have passed this course and its associated final
      exams (written and practical), thus earning ADC
      approval to become an AO.
     Receive a favorable simple majority vote from
      your group recommending you as an AO
     Receive a favorable simple majority vote from the
      ASRC BOD certifying you as an AO
ASRC Call-Out Procedures
1. Somewhere in VA, MD, PA, WV, DE,
   OH, ROW, a person goes missing.
   Local agencies respond to the initial
   call, determine they need SAR support
   and summon the ASRC.
2. A page goes across our primary alert
   system, hopefully with a 100- code, but
   not always, requesting the ASRC.
3. An Alert Officer responds to this initial
   page – that’s (going to be) you!
ASRC Call-Out Procedures
4. During the initial phone call, the AO collects
   information from the caller about the
   search, and then seeks out an IC or other
   Agency Representative (AR) to support
   the mission
5. While the AR is being found, the AO also
   begins seeking out a conference dispatch
   officer (CDO) to take over dispatch.
6. Once the AR has been found and an
   appropriate call out level determined, the
   CDO activates all appropriate GDOs and
   the call-out continues.
Responding to an Alert
   Call-Back
     Before calling back, send out a “101” page so
      that none of the other AOs try to call too.
     The initial “page” will contain a contact number
      for the agency requesting ASRC, call this
      number and introduce yourself as, “Hi, my name
      is ____, I’m calling from Appalachian Search
      and Rescue.” Do not abbreviate ASRC!
     If necessary, prompt the person on the other
      end of the line for some quick information to
      make sure the mission is one we will actually
      respond to
Responding to an Alert
   Missions we will          Missions we will
    respond to:                NOT respond to:
     Missing Persons           Missing pets
     Downed Aircraft           Apprehension of
     Disaster Responses         dangerous suspects
     Swift-water rescue        Missions not issued
      (shore tasks only)         by a valid RA
     Cave rescue (above        Pretty much anything
      ground tasks only)         not on the left side of
                                 this slide.
Responding to an Alert
   Once you are sure that this is a mission
    ASRC can respond to, you need the
    following Minimum Information:
       Name, title, and contact information for the Responsible Agent (RA)
       Age and sex of the subject
       Location/Weather/Terrain
       How long has the person been missing?
       Is the subject equipped for the outdoors (knowledge, experience,
       Pertinent medical/social history
       Steps taken thus far
       Other resources on scene, responding, requested
       ASRC response requested? What kind of response? When?
       Directions and phone number for base
       Mission/Reference number (if applicable – VDEM, some others)
Responding to an Alert
   That seems like a lot of information –
    how do I remember it all?
     First, just use common sense. By now you’re
      pretty experienced in SAR – what would you
      want to know before committing to a
     Second, two great resources exist to remind
      you – the first page of the conference
      dispatch log, along with the information
      requested for starting up a mission on
Responding to an Alert
   What if the caller does not have all the
    information I want?
     This happens a lot, especially with secondary
      agencies like VDEM (where the actual RA has
      contacted VDEM to request resources, and then
      VDEM has contacted ASRC).
     Get everything you can, at a minimum the
      location of the mission, subject details, and
      contact information for the RA so that you or the
      AR can contact the RA and get the rest of the
Responding to the Alert
   What if the caller is the actual RA and has
    questions for me?
     This is why we require you to take MLSO!
     Give your best advice possible about early
      search tactics (confinement tasks, hasty tasks,
      preserving the PLS/LKP).
     Recommend TYPES of resources (Dogs,
      signcutters), but do not recommend specific
      other agencies (VASARDA or SARTI).
     Depending on urgency vs distance our
      personnel will need to travel, is air travel
      appropriate? Can the RA arrange for it?
Responding to an Alert
   VDEM
     VDEM missions ALL have a mission
      number, and this number is MANDATORY.
     Without this number, ASRC personnel
      injured while responding to the mission
      cannot access state worker’s compensation
     Additionally, anytime Virginia based ASRC
      resources are responding outside of Virginia,
      the ASRC must advise VDEM of this fact,
      and again when the mission ends.
Transition to Dispatch
   Now that you have the mission information,
    you need to find an AR – hopefully an IC
     Do this by sending out a 102 page
     If no IC responds quickly (within 10 mins of you
      receiving the page you just sent), use the ASRC
      group rosters to begin directly calling ICs,
      especially those ICs who live near the mission.
   Find a CDO
     Do this by sending out a 104 page
Initiating Dispatch Operations
   Starting a new mission on the website
     If you haven’t already done so, go to , log in, go to the
      “Alert/Dispatch” tab (big red letters), and
      click the link that says “Add New Mission.”
     Enter all available information into the form.
      See now why I said this is a great cheat
      sheet for the minimum information you
      should get from the person who called us?
     YOU, as the AO, must do this – CDOs
Initiating Dispatch Operations
   If you do not get an immediate response to
    your 104 page, you probably should at least
    start the beginnings of Conference dispatch.
   To do this, start a dispatch log!
     These are also available on under
     They are also a fabulous “cheat sheet” for the initial
      alert information you need.
     If you want more information on dispatch logging,
      please take the CDO course. For now, just try to
      keep a record of everyone you talk to and every
      page you send, including approximate times.
Initiating Dispatch Operations
   Finding a CDO – the longer version
     If no CDO responds to your initial 104 page, you
        have several options, not the least of which is
        keeping dispatch yourself.
       Some groups’ rosters indicate those members who
        are certified as CDOs, you can try directly calling
        those individuals.
       Send emails from the
        email address to the ASRC secondary alert system
       Contact the ADC to request assistance
       Start cold-calling even those members of the ASRC
        not identified as CDOs and asking for their help.
Transitioning Dispatch
   Once you have someone who is willing to
    act as CDO, you should provide a
    transition report including:
       Vital mission info (location, subject details)
       Current status of finding an IC/AR
       ACA activated (if any)
       Status of dispatch log
   You should be prepared to email the
    individual with any logs you have
    generated, and to continue receiving phone
    calls until the new CDO sends the “105”
    page, announcing the change
So what now?
 Go back to your normal life
 Go search!
 Whatever you want to do, once dispatch
  has been accepted by a CDO and the
  105 page goes out, you have completed
  your duty.
 In an ideal world, this entire process
  should last less than 30 minutes. In the
  real world, it honestly may last for hours.
Technical Details
   How to send a page
     The easiest/most reliable way to send a
      page is from the ASRC gmail account, Password is
     Use this account to email
      to send pages to all personnel.
     The secondary alert system, asrc- will send emails to all
Technical Details
 ASRC Pager Codes
 With the new text message system,
  these are falling into disuse, but they are
  likely to become even more important in
  coming years, as means of directing
  pages through filters to the appropriate
  recipients – IC requests to ICs only,
  CDO requests to CDOs only, etc.
 As an AO, you should know all of the
  ASRC pager codes.
Technical Details
   ASRC Pager Codes                                 333: Full Callout
       0xx: Individual or group PIN                 441 – Status 1 Find
       000: Disregard previous page                 442 – Status 2 Find
       100: AO call this phone number               443 – Status 3 Find
       101: Previous page handled (by PIN)          444 – All teams en route turn around
       102: Avail IC call #                          and call dispatch
       103: Avail ACA call #                        445 – Mission suspended
       104: Avail CDO call #                        551 – Base, call this #
       105: new CDO #                               552 – Dispatch, call this #
       106: Dispatch Supervisor call #              553 – Teams Enroute call this #
       111: Notification of incident – mission      554 – GDOs, call ASRC Dispatch
        in ASRC response area, ASRC not              888 – Dispatch has closed
        responding within the next 24 hrs            999 – Disaster Response (ACA
       123: Pager test                               approval required)
       222: Alert – mission in ASRC response
        area, ASRC responding within 24 hrs.
       331: Overhead Team Request (IC +
       332: Limited Callout (as defined by
Technical Details
   Page Format
   Again, this is less vital with the availability of alpha-
    numeric text messages, but…
   M – CCC – XXX-YYY- ZZZZ – PPP – M
     M = Mission count (only used if multiple simultaneous
     CCC = Pager code
     XXX-YYY-ZZZZ= 10 digit phone #
     PPP = PIN of the individual sending the page. If you do
      not have an ASRC level PIN, simply repeat the pager
   If you are simply sending a 101 “Responding” page,
    all you need to send is “101-PPP” with your PIN.
Technical Details
   IC Typing and ACAs
   The ASRC types our ICs according to the types of
    missions they are qualified to lead.
     Type III – Simple, single resource missions
     Type II – Multiple resource missions (most ASRC
      missions are type II)
     Type I – Large, complicated missions involving multiple
      divisions, multiple jurisdictions, and 100+ personnel
   ACAs (Area Command Authority) are very senior
    ICs who are approved to speak on behalf of the
    ASRC on certain subjects (generally the things
    already mentioned in this lecture as reasons to
    call an ACA)
What if?
   I can’t find an IC
     If no IC is available, page 103 to request an ACA. As
      a hint, you should have already spoken to all of the
      ACAs while you were looking for ICs!
     Appraise the ACA of the situation and seek approval
      for a non-IC AR.
     Send another page seeking IS, then FTLs to serve as
      AR on the mission. Once one is found, get him/her in
      touch with the ACA to discuss details of responding.
     Technically, you must also get an ACA to approve if the
      only IC you can find is an IC-III, and the mission is
      Type II (has more than one resource type on scene).
What if?
   I can’t find a CDO?
     If after direct calling every known CDO you
      cannot find one to take over, contact any/all of
      the GDOs who have opened their group
      dispatches and ask them if they can/will accept
      conference dispatch.
     Failing that, contact the ADC, who will make the
      determination of the next step (it will involve
      contacting the Ops officer and/or chair and
      deciding whether the ASRC is going to attempt
      to respond to this mission or not).
What If?
   I’m not comfortable that the person who
    paged us is an acceptable RA?
     Collect as many details as possible and promise
      to call the individual back once you have
      determined how many resources can respond –
      do NOT promise resources!
     Contact the following in this order: an ACA,
      ASRC Ops Officer, ASRC Chair to discuss the
     Once a determination is made about our
      response, DO call the individual back, even if it
      is to say “We currently have nothing available.”
What If?
   I don’t have immediate access to a
     You won’t be able to even send the 101 page,
      so you probably shouldn’t try to be AO on this
     If no page comes out within a reasonable
      amount of time, or if the RA pages a second
      time, contact someone else who DOES have
      access to a computer, get them to send a 101
      page (including the explanation that you do not
      have computer access and will need
      IMMEDIATE CDO relief), take down the alert
      information using pen/paper, and try to find a
      CDO as quickly as possible.
What if?
   This is our second, third, or even fourth
    simultaneous mission?
     Again, send a 103 page to activate an ACA.
     The ACA will make decisions regarding
      allocation of ASRC resources to different
      missions, ensure these decisions get relayed to
      the CDO, who will ensure they are implemented.
     We NEVER decline missions solely on the basis
      of the # of other missions currently being
      served. What if this new mission was right in
      someone’s backyard, meaning they could put in
      a task or two when they previously could not?
What if?
 The list of what-ifs can go on forever.
 Use your best judgment about what to do –
  part of the reason for requiring that AOs
  hold FTL at a minimum is that FTLs are
  assumed to have passed a certain
  minimum standard of reasonable judgment
  in order to earn the certificate.
 If you really don’t know what to do, CALL
  another AO with more experience, anyone.
 Since this is a distance learning class, I
  can’t answer your questions in person.
 Please feel free to email any questions
  you have to They will be
  answered as soon as possible, likely in
  under 24 hours.
What now?
 Download and complete the worksheets
  titled “Alert Officer Homework.”
 Email your completed homework to It will be returned to you
  ASAP with corrections.
 If you pass the homework assignment
  (75% or better), you will be sent the
  Final Exam, which you must complete
  on your own without using notes.

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