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CASART_logo.jpg (8316 bytes)Introduction to Human Tracking
for Search and Rescue Volunteers
- Use freely for any not for profit purpose

- Click Here to download .pdf files of the manuals -

Session Goals

  • Understand what constitutes a "Sign" and the importance of being "Track Aware"
  • Become familiar with tracking terminology and techniques
  • Experience human tracking first hand to learn to see physical "sign" that others would look at and not see
  • Understand the patience and concentration necessary to identify a potential human track in the field to be a more effective line searcher and SAR volunteer

Session Content

One day, 4 hour course, 2 hours in the classroom and 2 hours in the field
Opening lecture - Introduction to Human Tracking, will be based on these hand-out materials
A Question and Answer session will follow lecture
Field work - We'll break up into groups of three to begin tracking. Groups will begin at a marked line of sign with an obvious footprint and draw and measure the print. Next we'll set up our tracking sticks to measure the stride interval of the subject and then begin tracking.


Introduction to Human Tracking for Search and Rescue Volunteers

Part 1 — What Constitutes a "Sign" and the Importance of Being "Track Aware"

As Search and Rescue volunteers, our goal is to help recover a lost individual. But it's important to understand that we are not just looking for a person. We should be looking for any physical indication that the lost individual has left behind. We should be looking for "Sign."

So, what is a sign?
Sign is all evidence, not limited to footfalls, of a person's passage or presence.

track.jpg (75610 bytes)Signs that are easy to see might include discarded clothing, a lost hat, a water bottle or candy wrappers.

The harder to see signs are the broken twigs, bruised vegetation and compressed leaves left behind when a foot strikes the ground.

Without taking a class like this you'd probably find that what an experienced tracker "sees" and calls a sign, would look to you like nothing at all. You might even think that the tracker is crazy. But he's not. The tracker has a different mindset and the tracker has a trained eye.

Can you see the signs in the picture to the right? It's there, but it's hard to see with an untrained eye.

The field portion of our class is designed to change how you think about what constitutes a sign, and to train your eye so that you'll see what might otherwise be invisible to you. That way you can understand the patience and concentration it takes to notice a sign in the first place. And hopefully, you'll be a better Search and Rescue Volunteer for the experience, because on a real search, finding a sign that you might otherwise overlook could mean the difference between life and death for the subject of the search. Simply put, the importance of you being "track aware" could someday save a life.

Link to: Part II — Subject's Point Last Seen (PLS) and Track Identification


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- Content and images copyright Roy Reehil, 2004
This tracking training page is hosted by the Forager Press, LLC
  Copyright The Forager Press, LLC - Use freely for any not for profit Search and Rescue Volunteer Training