Wilderness Search and Rescue

Program Description

The Illinois Fire Service Institute's Wilderness Search and Rescue Program offers Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) Awareness, Operations and Technician to train First Responders who respond to missing person incidents in urban, rural, and wilderness settings. The course meets the requirements listed in NFPA 1006 Chapter 11 Wilderness Search and Rescue. The course focuses on teaching skills to responders searching for missing persons in land environments that do not require swiftwater or technical rescue skills.   

Awareness is a class that provides the background of WSAR and focuses on the skills needed to be a successful searcher in the field. It will include recognition of weather and environmental concerns, appropriate clothing, PPE, and equipment, and mitigation of incident hazards. It proceeds with instruction for the “boots-on-the-ground” first responder in search techniques and procedures, and some land navigation.

Operations and Technician are combined into a 67-hour class. This includes more land navigation, tracking, wilderness skills and patient packaging. It also includes search management skills including lost person behavior, interview techniques, developing preplans, search plans and incident action plans, and managing search resources.

Wilderness Search and Rescue Awareness is a prerequisite to be completed prior to registering for Wilderness Search and Rescue Operations and Technician.

Upon completion of both classes, the participant will understand all aspects of missing person search and rescue and be prepared to locate and rescue missing persons. They will be valued members of a Search and Rescue team.

Upon successful completion of both classes, including written and practical exams, students will receive Pro Board certification in Awareness, Operations and Technician, and a certificate in Lost Person Behavior.


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