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New Brunswick. Introduction to Clue Awareness and Human Tracking for Search and Rescue Volunteers. The Past. Sole purpose of finding the lost subject. Clues were missed. Search incidents tended to last longer. Often ending with injury or death of the subject. Clue Awareness.

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New brunswick

New Brunswick

Introduction to

Clue Awareness and Human Tracking for Search and Rescue Volunteers


The past

The Past

Sole purpose of finding the lost subject.

Clues were missed.

Search incidents tended to last longer.

Often ending with injury or death of the subject.


Clue awareness

Clue Awareness

Uncertainty can only be resolved with information.

Clues are the source of the information.

A clue is a sign or message.

A clue is any bit of information that contributes to the reduction of uncertainty.


Clues can answer more specific questions

Clues can answer more specific questions.

Which direction did the subject travel from the point last seen.(PLS)?

What were their intentions or trip plans?

How far can we reasonably expect someone like to go?


Clues can answer more specific questions1

Clues can answer more specific questions.

What parts of the search area has the subject past through?

What parts of the search area has the subject not past through?


What is a clue

What is a “clue”?

A “clue” is a fact, an object, information or some type of evidence that helps to solve a mystery or problem.


Modern search theory

Modern Search Theory

Clue-seeking rather than subject- seeking.

Many more clues than lost subjects.


The principles of clue awareness are as follows

The principles of clue awareness are as follows:

Clues are messages.

The subject is a clue generator.

The searcher is a clue seeker.

The search area should contain many clues.

The absence of clues is also a clue.


Clues are messages

Clues are messages

Present location of the subject. (Subject found)

Previous location of the subject. (Clue found)

Destination or intent of the subject. (Clue found)

Subject was never there. (No clue)


Four categories for clues

Four categories for clues

Physical (an item or event)

Documentary (a written clue)

Testimonial (statement by other persons)

Analytical (the results of reasoning)


Clue oriented search

Clue oriented search

Monitor the search area for changes.

Clues are fragile and ephemeral.

The search area is volatile.

A set of footprints in the search area may contain different messages.


The subject is a clue generator

The subject is a clue generator

Subject are “sign” generators.

Multiple signal generators. (Family, Public and other searchers)

Time period that the subject have been lost. (Estimate search area size)

Their intent or destination.


The searcher is a clue seeker

The searcher is a clue seeker

Searchers must be in the search area.

An overall strategy is needed to assume that all pertinent and significant areas are identified.

We must follow up on various common clues:

Immediately notify the Command post of a clue/message received;

Through group action, try to evaluate the clue/message in the field; and

Act upon the interpreted message in consultation with the Command post.


The search area should contain many clues

The search area should contain many clues

Positive steps are required to assure that the lost subject does not leave the search area.

The area is extended to include all clues.

Consideration of whether the subject is involved in a crime, remember that a crime is seldom a cause of persons becoming lost or missing.


The absence of clues is also a clue

The absence of clues is also a clue

Knowing where the subject has not been is extremely important information when narrowing down the search area.


Human tracking for search and rescue volunteers

Human Tracking for Search and Rescue Volunteers

Human Tracking is probably the single most important skill any professional searcher can develop.


What constitutes a sign and the importance of track awareness

What Constitutes a "Sign" and the Importance of "Track Awareness.”

The signs might be discarded clothing, a lost hat, a water bottle or candy rappers.

Some of the clues left behind by a lost person are harder to find. These include broken twigs, bruised vegetation and compressed leaves left behind as their foot strikes the ground.



Initial responders Awareness.”

  • Sex.

  • Age.

  • Size.

  • Weight.

  • Hair color.

  • Clothing worn (foot wear).


Drawing of the sole or lug pattern

Drawing of the sole or lug pattern Awareness.”

A detailed description of the footprint

A detailed drawing of the footprint should include:

Overall length

Length of heel

Width of the ball of the foot

Width of the heel


Using a tracking stick Awareness.”




Observe the shadows Awareness.”


Observe the shadows Awareness.”


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