HAMLET — First responders and law enforcement officials participated in Man Tracking and Search and Rescue classes last weekend at Millstone 4-H Camp located in Ellerbe.
Pineland Resources Inc. instructors Charlie Williams, his brother, Mike Williams, and Andy Osborne provided both classroom lectures and hands-on training for the four-day program. Exercises included searching for missing persons in the wooded area around Millstone, incorporating various search and rescue resources, including dogs and horse tracking teams.
The course provided instruction on tactical tracking of all missing persons, including people that are trying to evade detection. The training for local first responders and law enforcement was coordinated through Richmond Community College’s Workforce and Economic Development division by Holly Russell and Neil Parrisher.
“People don’t realize how much goes into search and rescue,” Charlie Williams said. “A tactical tracking operation is a team effort, which means everyone doing their part.”
The Pineland Resources instructors have 20 years of combined experience in search and rescue. They provided instruction on having the right gear and equipment before setting out on a search; creating a profile on the missing person or persons; having knowledge about the search area and its terrain; having situational awareness and taking different angles of observation; using different tracking formations; and having clear communication between team members.
Between the Williams brothers and Osborne, they have participated in hundreds of searches, from fugitives on the run to missing Alzheimer patients and small children. Williams talked about the difficulties in searching for children because they have been taught to fear strangers and their desire to hide. He described how toddlers walk, laying down little to no tracks to follow.
“But this is why you are all here,” Williams told the class. “To learn how to find sign and track sign and bring these children home safely.”
The class drew first responders and law enforcement from all over the state, plus one Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Spartanburg, S.C. Teams spent day and night in the woods tracking two “missing victims” played by Osborne’s son and daughter, who have been playing this real-life version of hide and seek for search and rescue training operations since they were kids.
Donna Wright, director of Emergency Medical Services for Richmond County, explained that a large number of Richmond County SAR personnel participated in the three-day man tracking scenario. Wright said many joined the incident management team, where they learned invaluable skills about managing and coordinating a large number of individuals that are constantly on the move. According to Wright, accountability and coordination are key components of a successful operation. Wright said this was the first time a Richmond County search and rescue exercise used teams mounted on horses in the search efforts.
The operational area included about 24 square miles with 113 people taking part in tracking the two victims over the course of three days.
To learn more about law enforcement and first responder training, contact RCC’s Public Director of Safety Neil Parrisher at 910-410-1708 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wylie Bell is the director of marketing and communications at RCC.