Co-ordinated search plan: Water rescue

Control Measure Knowledge

Police search advisers (PolSA) hold a Home Office licence and have a responsibility to plan, organise, and manage a missing person search. While the PolSA will co-ordinate the overall search operations, it is recognised that some functions will be supported by partner agencies with specific water rescue expertise. This includes flood rescue tactical advisers and water and flood incident managers.

It may be beneficial for fire and rescue services to arrange joint training and exercises with responders who may be involved in a water rescue to improve interoperability.

A missing person search aims to locate a person who is missing or otherwise establish and confirm the person’s whereabouts and identity. An assessment should be completed to improve intelligence and inform search planning and management. Joint decision-making should determine the search plan, including the type, area, and resources to be deployed. Once determined, the search plan should be communicated and co-ordinated using the JESIP principles.

The (page 28) provides details about the types of search in a flood environment that may be applied to a water search and rescue.

To facilitate the selected type of search, the most appropriate resources should be tasked. For more information refer to Specialist resources: Water search and rescue.

Search exit strategy

As a general principle, search activity should continue until the person in water is located. However, the search may need to be called off or halted for several reasons, including the safety of personnel, meaning the person may not be found as a result. The police have the responsibility to call off or take over a search.

Submerged casualties

Information gathered during the initial response to an incident should be shared with oncoming resources to help limit the search area.

If services have procedures and equipment to perform underwater searches, they should consider water flow and conditions as well as the point and means of entry. Most casualties who are submerged remain within a short distance of the water entry point (WEP); if underwater searching is required, this area should be the focus in the early stages of the search.

For more information refer to Submerged casualties.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions