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The Ohio Search and Rescue Association Magazine

November 2012

The Debrief

COVER STORY The first meetings are held to form OSARA.

Inside the Body Farm

SAR Merit Badge

Homemade Energy Bar Cover photo by Dave Liggett

Using Social Media during a search?


Pat Patzer and Jengo Mid West k9 handler, Pat Patzer, and her Labrador retriever, Jengo, conducting a cadaver search in an area of Big Run Park in Columbus. They are accompanied by Columbus Police Detective Ron Grocki. Photo courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch.

Submit your photo and it may be featured in our next issue! Email photos to

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Contents The SAR Merit Badge—6 Cover Story

The Beginning of OSARA—8 The Body Farm—12 Social Media—14

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50% Off


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until March Subscription to OSARA E-Magazine (4 per year) Voting rights Discount for The 2013 Ohio SAR Conference Access to the member discussion board Charter Member certificate $30 Discount in the OSARA store




Subscription to OSARA Magazine (4 per year) Voting rights Free Spotlight Table at The 2013 Ohio SAR Conference Team Charter Member certificate $50 Discount in the OSARA store

Welcome to the inaugural edition of OSARA’s Magazine! The Ohio Search and Rescue Association was formed in the summer of 2012 to represent the SAR community in Ohio. Up until this time, there was no organization that could provide a unified voice to communicate with either the Attorney General’s office or any entity within the Department of Public Safety. Many of you on an individual basis have tried to promote SAR but the reality is that to have a response system we need support and leadership at the state level. In the spring of 2010, The State Fire Marshall’s office extended an offer to help. Over the past year and a half, with the guidance of State Fire Marshall Larry Flowers and former Chief Deputy Fire Marshall Don Cooper, conversations were initiated with all interested parties. I am pleased to report that we have forward momentum! There is a lot that still needs to be done to put all of the components of a response system together. It will also mean that SAR teams and individuals will need to evaluate their training and mode of operation. If we want to be treated as a volunteer professional that means meeting minimum standards. We have a unique opportunity to establish a search and rescue response system correctly from the beginning. Please consider being a member of this important organization so that “United...others may live”. Sincerely, Janelle Hideg President

Melt the following together 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter 1/2 Cup Butter 1/2 Cup Marshmallows 1/2 Chocolate Chips Mix with 2 Cups Cheerios 2 1/2 Cups Rice Krispies 1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds 1/2 Cup Peanuts Smooth out the mixture in a 9x9 baking pan and let cool. Then cut into bars.

Merit Badge Encourages Scouts to Be Prepared When Enjoying Adventure Outdoors Every year, thousands of people who were reported missing are saved by specialized search and rescue (SAR) teams. With high-tech navigation tools readily available, many people are able to self -evacuate from remote areas. But the critical skills of SAR are still essential to saving lives. That’s why today, the BSA is announcing its first Search and Rescue merit badge at the 2012 National Search and Rescue Conference hosted by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) and the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Scouts aiming to earn the Search and Rescue merit badge will first learn the important differences between a search and rescue. A search is an emergency situation requiring a team of trained searchers to locate, access, stabilize, and transport a lost person to safety. A rescue is an emergency situation where the person’s location is known but he or she must be removed from danger and returned to safety. The term SAR is used together because rescues are often required after the person is found. Scouts will learn the fundamentals of SAR, but the badge will not qualify a young person as a trained searcher. While the BSA seeks to equip young people with relevant and useful skills, the organization stresses that Scouts should never attempt a search or rescue on their own. “The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is ‘Be Prepared’—which sometimes translates to knowing how to respond in an emergency,” said Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. “While we are not encouraging our Scouts to practice these new skills independently, we do want them to be ready to lend a hand to the community, and to each other.” To meet the requirements of the Search and Rescue merit badge, Scouts must complete a series of nine requirements relating to SAR fundamentals such as: The process and safety methods of working around specialized teams such as aircraft, canine, and aquatic rescue teams Identifying differences between search and rescue environments, such as coastal, wilderness, rural, and urban landscapes Determining when Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) and latitude and longitude (Lat/Lon) should be used As an active SAR volunteer and former associate director of program (once responsible for backcountry operations) at Philmont Scout Ranch, one of the BSA’s four high-adventure bases, Doug Palmer fully understands the importance of learning these skills. “One of the main missions of Scouting is to introduce the thrill of the outdoors to young people,” Palmer said. “However, we recognize that outdoor adventure comes with some element of risk. Our job is to make sure young people are able to enjoy the environment safely.” One of the most significant lessons Scouts can learn by working toward the Search and Rescue merit badge is how to “stay found” if they lose their way and keep themselves from becoming the subjects of an SAR. “Staying found" is both a simple and easily learned concept … and it can be a lifesaving one,” said Dan Hourihan, NASAR president. To learn more about merit badges offered by the BSA, visit Page 6

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News Blog Web Store Forum Team Database Search Database

Mission Database The Mission Database is one of the most important functions on the website. Teams are asked to fill in the short form so that we can start storing information about searches in the state. This information will also be shared with the International Search and Rescue Database.

Member Forum A benefit of membership is access to the online forum. Members can use it to communicate about training, tips, gear, ideas or just about anything. It is a great way to build relationships and create a stronger connection between teams.

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As most of Central Ohio was struggling with a widespread power outage, about a dozen representatives from teams across Ohio met at the Ohio Fire Academy. Years of ideas, talking and planning came down to this meeting; the first meeting of what would become the Ohio Search and Rescue Association. The derecho that had hit the day prior was a good reminder of why we were there. As stories were shared about fallen trees and roads blocked by debris, the need to be organized with one voice was clear. How great would it be if we had a mechanism that could not only make first responders aware of our resources but put those resources to use instantly during a disaster or missing persons situation. The meeting kicked off with Don Cooper of the Ohio Fire Marshals Office talking about the need to organize and get legislation passed. A majority of states in the country have some sort of government agency or state organization that represents volunteer SAR on a state level. Don also commented on the need for standards and common paperwork that would keep searches more organized. “It is just the right time� he said. Goals and a mission statement needed to be created to give the organization a clear path to travel. The mission of OSARA is very simple, to give SAR a voice and develop a system that works. As the Ohio Search and Rescue Association, our mission is to provide a consistent, unified, expert voice on behalf of the Ohio search and rescue community, and to facilitate the development and maintenance of an effective search and rescue system in Ohio. The goals that have been adopted are very ambitious. They focus primarily on organizing and data collection. Some of these goals are already well on their way to being accomplished. The OSARA website has a section that can be used to submit search data. This data will be stored and analyzed for future searches. Currently we are only guessing on how many searches are conducted a year. It is very important that this information is tracked so we can work on solutions that may prevent someone from going missing in the future. We can create programs Left: Eddie Landry and Janelle Hideg participate in a multi organization disaster exercise on October 15th, 2011. Top: Several organizations coming together for an exercise that featured multiple lost subjects on over 500 acres.

Continue >

that target groups that need more Provide expert advice regarding search and rescue operations education based off the statistics that are created from the Ohio and management in Ohio. Search Database. This is Promote professional, collaborative relationships between something that everyone can the Ohio search and rescue community and authorities involved in the direction, control, support and coordination participate in and you can start now. of search and rescue efforts in Ohio. As the meeting came to a Support the provision of high quality training for the Ohio close we tackled the question of search and rescue community. who would be in charge until an Support the development and maintenance of a official organizational vote could comprehensive Ohio search and rescue resource database. be held at the 2013 Ohio SAR Support the development and maintenance of a system to request (call out) all types of search and rescue resources in conference in March. A diverse group of volunteers came forward Ohio. to become the temporary officers Support the development of appropriate training and of the organization. operational standards for search and rescue resources in Ohio. The Officers Inform the public regarding search and rescue prevention Janelle Hideg - President and response in Ohio. Tony Walker - Vice President Support the collection and analysis of search and rescue Nancy Vickroy - Secretary mission data in Ohio Theresa Jones - Treasurer


LouAnn Metz - PIO To keep the momentum going a follow up meeting was held on August 4th. In this meeting the group started to get into the details of membership to OSARA. Although several benefits are offered, it is the charter member status that stands out. The member has the opportunity to help guide SAR in the state of Ohio and be a part of the solution. To encourage charter membership the fee was set at a very low price compared to other organizations in the industry. Single members can join for $15 and teams can join for $25. 2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year for search and rescue in the state of Ohio. The current officers are fully committed to OSARA and the direction it is going. Everyone is encouraged to visit the website, join the organization, partake in meetings and attend the 2013 Ohio SAR Conference on March 8th-10th, 2013. ________________________________________________________________________ Tony Walker—Vice President of OSARA and Chief Editor of The Debrief Magazine.

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Missing from: Columbus, Ohio Missing since: 3/23/2012 Missing age: 29 Current age: 29 Date of birth: 12/30/1982 Gender: Female Race/Ethnicity: Hispanic Height: 5'1" Weight: 160 Hair color: Black Eye color: Brown

Claudia Lopez Escobar

Details Last seen in Columbus, Ohio on 3/23/2012. Her vehicle has not been found. It is a green 1996 Jeep Cherokee Classic Sport with black rims. The Ohio license plate number is FLT6869.

Name: Sar I Missing from: Columbus, Ohio Missing since: 3/23/2012 Missing age: 41 Gender: Male Race/Ethnicity: Cambodian Hair color: Black Eye color: Brown Charged with: Murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse. Sar I is wanted in connection to Escobar’s disappearance.

Contact Columbus Police if you have any information at 614-645-4730.

SAR I Page 11

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Western Carolina University’s Forensic Research Facility As a Human Remains Detection (HRD) K9 Handler I’m often asked how do you train a dog to do that? My answer is simple, train, train, train. Just to make sure they understand the depth of that answer, I explain that as professional volunteers in this field we must be ready and prepared for a variety of search conditions and scenarios. We must be confident in ourselves and our dogs to search during the day, night, in the rain, snow, fog, hot, cold, and wind, with buried finds, elevated finds, surface finds and water finds. But there are also a variety of scenarios we have with training aids. It is necessary to utilize the various types of training aid matter, as well as, fresh training aids, old training aids, small scent sources and large scent sources. The most difficult part of any scenario to actually train for is the large scent source but it can also be one of the most important. It is very likely that your dog will give you different behavior and possibly not pinpoint the source when searching for an entire person versus trace evidence of human remains as the smell might be overwhelming for the dog’s nose. Understanding these changes in your dog’s behavior could be the difference in finding a person or not.

“The most difficult part of any scenario to actually train for is the large scent source but it can also be one of the most important.” K9 Handlers across the states who train for HRD are traveling to North Carolina to train for this exact scenario thanks to Western Carolina University. A cadaver dog training program was incorporated into their Forensic Anthropology Program allowing handlers the ability to expose their dogs to full body decomposition in the Forensic Osteology Research Station (FOREST). Page 12

Pat and Jengo

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Upon hearing about this opportunity I immediately started looking for upcoming classes and was one of the lucky few to be registered for the class that has been known to fill up in 10 minutes. As with any seminar you attend you have an idea of what to expect but this was going to be a whole new experience for me. Shortly after my arrival I was re-united with colleagues that I have gotten to know over the years from five different states who have also made their way to WCU for this rare opportunity. After meeting our instructors we were given a synopsis of what our week would be: Classroom work, field work outside the FOREST, water searches, building searches, classroom bone identification human vs. nonhuman, work the dogs around the perimeter of the FOREST and finally work the dogs in the FOREST. The instructors are very experienced with the eager K9 handler who can’t wait to get their dog into the FOREST therefore they have a good system of how to work all dogs, no matter the experience level, into the FOREST to ensure a positive experience. Throughout the time at the course our instructors set up numerous training opportunities for us and we eagerly worked each one of them taking advantage of the diverse training aids. During these exercises we had the ability to work the dogs on some larger sources and to even work them on bone that was 400-1000 years old. As I made my way to the FOREST I tried to remember the words of caution from our instructors not to push the dogs to fast. I knew my dog had been exposed to an entire body but the state of decomposition was completely different in this scenario. As we stood at the bottom of the hill waiting our cue to proceed up the hill to the FOREST I found myself both excited and nervous. “Ok Jengo we’re up” I said as I saw the previous student coming down the hill. As we worked our way up the hill I could see his nose working and after entering, the instructor lets us explore giving both me and the dog praise and re-assurance as we worked. As we made our way around the FOREST I was very pleased with how my dog reacted to the environment and before I knew it, my five minutes in the FOREST had expired. As we neared the end of our final day I knew I wasn’t going to get another chance to go back in but I had gotten what I came here for, exposure to a decomposing cadaver in its entirety. And who knows I may find myself back at WCU for the advanced cadaver training class and more time in the FOREST. Thank you to WCU and all the instructors who help make this opportunity available for cadaver dog handlers. ______________________________________________________________________ Pat Patzer—K9 Handler—Midwest K9 Visit for more information on WCU’s Forensic Anthropology Program Page 13

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Social Media and SAR Communicating with the media is a vital part of managing a search. You want the information shared in hopes that a member of the public has information about the subject. Historically this was done with radio, TV, and print media. Those outlets are still priority but times have changed and social media is becoming a larger part of the news market. Facebook has 955 million active users with around half accessing the site with their mobile device. It is also interesting to note that 55% Americans 4554 have a social media profile. It is no longer just for teenagers. Older adults have found it to be a great tool for keeping in touch with old friends and distant family. The question for search and rescue teams is how to get our message to spread in this new outlet. Luckily for us the roads are already built, we just have to navigate them. We have already started to see missing persons information being spread online. On March 16th, 2012 a Morgan Hill California teen, Sierra Lamar, went missing while waiting at the bus stop. Over the next several days her cell phone and clothes were found by searchers in fields around her neighborhood. Sierra was an active Twitter user with almost 6,000 tweets. Her last tweet was shortly before her disappearance. In the following days the hashtag #findsierra and #findsierralamar started blowing up Twitter with thousands of tweets. Posters, pictures and information were spreading all over the world sparking emotion and curiosity about the search.

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In early May a description was released of a vehicle that may have been linked to her disappearance. The information spread like a wild fire on social media and witnesses began to come forward with information. Sierra is still missing but a suspect has been arrested. Observing the Sierra Lamar case unfold it was clear that social media is much different than traditional media. No longer are you telling people about a search but you are interacting with them. The more you interact and make people apart of the search, the better results you will have. This is a good job for a team member that is unable to respond to the search or your PIO. Have them dedicate time to online media outreach. You can very easily start a Facebook “like” page or create a Twitter hashtag. The traditional media outlets are very versed in social media and will share the online outlets during their news cast if you ask them. A majority of the social media outreach that I have seen as been pushed by family and friends. There are both negatives and positives to this. The family is able to create a better emotional picture that will reach out to people. The down side of that is that the family will speak purely from emotion and may stretch information to get what they want. I received a call from a family one time about 2 missing “kids”. They described them has young teenagers that did not return home the night before. They were frustrated that the police were not helping them and wanted to start their own search in a wooded area. Upon further prodding it was found out that the “kids” were in their twenties and were missing in a vehicle. It is hard to blame a family for stretching the truth because all they care about is finding their loved ones. From a public information perspective this can be extremely damaging. This is why I think SAR teams should explore working with the responsible authorities during searches to use social media. The family can still be a part of the outreach but the information needs managed to insure accuracy. Continue > Above: Poster for missing teen Sierra Lamar. Note the Facebook web address at the bottom. Left: Snap shot of the Ohio Attorney Generals Office Missing Adult Twitter page. Follow @ohiomissing to receive Tweets about missing persons in Ohio.

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Managing social media can be very difficult at times because the information can spread very quickly. In the emergency management world there is a fear of false information spreading. This has been researched and most of the time it is found that the false information is refuted quickly when the truth is available. This is why you need to be proactive or someone else will be. Crime shows have created a culture of “couch experts” that will blog and post about how the investigation should be handled. By embracing the new information outlets, you will be able to provided solid information to keep the critics at bay while keeping the story relevant in the media. We are finally starting to see classes being offered for first responders about social media. A class will even be offered at the 2013 Ohio SAR Conference about ethics and social media. Social media is something that you can start now. Create a Facebook page and Twitter account for your team. You can then interact with other teams, first responders, the media and the public. This will get you followers and allow you to provide proactive training to your followers. It may also get you some recruits or donors. Just make sure you are not posting information about searches unless it has been cleared by the responsible authority or it is already in the public arena. Do not make the mistake that you can control social media. You can only guide it in the direction you want it to go. You need the people to take it there and always do it in conjunction with the responsible authorities Public Information Officer. ______________________________________________________________________ Tony Walker—Vice President of OSARA and Chief Editor of The Debrief Magazine.

Do you have a Social Media Story?


Share it with The Debrief Staff and it may get featured in the next magazine. Email story to

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March 8-10, 2013 Location: The Ohio Fire Academy 8895 East Main Street Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 Cost: OSARA Members: $60 Non Members: $80 Single Day: $40/day Topics Include: The Role of the A.G. Office in Missing Person Incidents Brent Currence-Manager, Missing Persons Unit, BCI Ohio Amber Committee Updates Captain Robert Jackson, OSP Ohio Child Abduction Response Team Updates Chief Gary Vest, Powell P.D. Search Theory for Searchers Breakfast Provided: Don Cooper Ohio Incident Management Teams Friday, Saturday & Sunday David Calderone Lunch Provided: Ohio CERT - Status and update Friday & Saturday Todd Barstow, State Coordinator Lodging: Canine Physical Conditioning and Working Dog DNA Bank Days Inn & Suites Cynthia Otto, DVM, Univ. of Pennsylvania 2100 Brice Rd. Physical and Psychological Support of Extended Search Operations Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 Don Scelza, ASRC 614-864-1280 Results of Effective Sweep Width Experiments $55/night double occupancy Ken Chiacchia, ASRC Room block release 02-21-13 Personal Stories and Accounts of Abduction Send Registration and payment to: Theresa Jones ATTN: Ohio SAR 962 Patriot Square Dr Centerville, OH 45459

La Quinta Inn & Suites 2447 Brice Rd. Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 1-866-527-1498 Confirmation code: 0550GRFFMN $62/night double occupancy Room block release 2-15-13

Social Media: The usage and ethics in missing person cases Jonathan Blanton, Principal Attorney, Ohio A.G. Office Plus Ohio Search and Rescue Association Meeting Viewing of Dogs of War: The Fight Back Home Open to the public—There will be a $5 charge for the movie.

visit for more information

The Debrief - November 2012  

The Ohio Search and Rescue Associations Magazine.

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