How well do we search for missing people in Queensland, Australia?

Jim Whitehead APM M.Emg.Mgt, B.Soc.Sc.1
Professor Richard Franklin PhD, FPHAA, FARL,
FACTM, MSocSc (Queensland Health), BSc, GCertAustRurLeadership, GradCertEd, MACTM
& Dr Tracey Mahony (PhD (Commerce-Marketing), MPA, LLB2
1 Retired Queensland Police State Search and Rescue Coordinator, Australia
2 James Cook University, Australia



Most countries, states or counties have an organised Search and Rescue (SAR) response to reported
missing people, whether it is by statutory authorities such as the police or by volunteer groups. The success or otherwise of the ensuing searches is often dependent on the training of the coordination team and the adherence to known and proven search strategies. It would be realistic to assert that the chances of a successful search are reduced if the coordinator cannot put those searchers in the right location. This paper examines the functionality of the SAR system in Queensland, looking at the coordination structure, the strategies utilised in determining search areas and whether they are still fit for purpose. The response to SAR is a police responsibility with the assistance of volunteer groups such as the State Emergency Service, and to this end a significant effort is undertaken to train both police coordinators and volunteer searchers.

KEY WORDS: Search, Rescue, Theoretical, Statistical, Subjective, Deductive

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