By Suzanne Kynast

1. Pre-Departure Information Session

Talk BEFORE heading out on the water to decide with the group what procedures will be followed in case of an emergency.  Decide on a point of rendezvous, whether or not to hold your position by heading your kayak into the wind, use of whistles (3 or 5 blasts).

2. Initial Rapid Response (Hasty Search)

  • Record your position and time.
  • Make noise (shout, whistle, etc.) to try to attract your lost group member’s attention.
  • Retrace your steps about 100 yards (for example, go back around the headland) to see if the person is just on the other side.
  • Ask preliminary questions of your group (The two most important questions: Point Last Seen (PLS) and Thing Last Said (TLS).) Be HONEST with yourself about the last time that you saw your client.
  • Record all the information that you can gather from the group. Ask 100 questions of the group such as: What was the state of the person? Where did he want to go?

3. Stabilize Your Group

Make sure your group is secure with an activity such as setting up camp. DO NOT involve members of your group in the Search and Rescue.

4. Following Hasty Search, ask yourself:

What can you do to help your victim?  What is now possible for the survival of the client?
  • Notify the authorities (Coast Guard)= PAN, PAN, PAN on Channel 16.
  • Give all relevant information to the Coast Guard: current, wind, PLS and TLS.
  • Follow the Coast Guard instructions for the continued search.
  • Record data of the TIME and PLACE every 10 minutes for a continuing search by the authorities. If you have a GPS, mark wayward points every 10 minutes.

5.  Establish a Subjective Search and a Theoretical Search

Assuming the Coast Guard wants you to continue your search, plot a map of the PLS and create a vector using wind and current directions.  Don’t stop searching until someone tells you to stop.