Tracking is a specialty discipline within Search and Rescue and has been shown to be a highly effective technique in locating lost persons. Trackers look for clues such as tracks (footprint) or sign (damaged leaves, compressed ground) that a lost person will leave behind. Tracking can be most effective in picking up tracks from the point a subject was last seen and providing the Search Manager with a direction of travel. By finding the direction of travel, the high probability search area can be significantly reduced and the probability of finding the missing subject enhanced.
Tracking Teams typically work in groups of three – one lead tracker and two flankers following the subject’s trail step-by-step. A second team of advanced trackers will cut for sign ahead while moving across the subject’s projected line of travel at 90 degrees. If they find identifiable sign that the subject continued in that direction, they take over moving from track to track and the original team will “leap-frog” ahead on the missing person’s track to speed up movement.
Tracking cannot be learned from a book, only hours of practice will make a person competent in tracking. It takes training, determination and hundreds of hours of practice to become a skilled tracker. In BC tracking courses are delivered through the BC Tracking Association and Universal Tracking Services in progressive levels of proficiency starting with Track Aware and progressing through Tracker 1, Tracker 2 and Sign Cutter.
The AVRS Tracking Team trains every Thursday night from mid September through June.