Multi-Jurisdictional Search and Rescue Drill Puts the System to the Test

Note to media: Media are invited, details at bottom

Imagine you host a gathering at your home with family and friends. By the end of the night, one of your family members is missing. Perhaps it’s an elderly grandparent or special-needs child; you can’t find them anywhere. Or imagine your loved one goes out for a morning run. A couple hours pass and he/she has not returned home; they are never gone for more than half an hour. Did he get lost? Is she hurt? In either situation, you call police for help finding your loved one.

These are the frightening situations Search and Rescue teams are often called into. With unknown circumstances facing them, it is critical for search and rescue teams to be prepared for any terrain, situation or timeframe. Training and preparation are vital in providing you with the best chances of bringing your loved one home.

On Saturday, August 20, the Fairfax County Police Department Search and Rescue Team (SAR) will host a large-scale training exercise on behalf of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government, Police Chiefs, and Search Operations work group. The drill will integrate search managers and teams from several law enforcement agencies and rescue groups, to include water, air and K-9 assets. Agencies participating in the training include:

  • Fairfax County Police and Sheriff’s
  • Fairfax County Fire and Rescue
  • Loudoun County Sheriff’s
  • Prince William County Police
  • United States Park Police
  • Montgomery County Police
  • Maryland-National Capital Park Police
  • Charles County (MD) Sheriff’s
  • Maryland Search and Rescue
  • Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group
  • Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association
  • DOGS-East Search and Rescue Group
  • Virginia Airborne Search and Rescue Squad
  • Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management

The day-long drill will be conducted in a vast stretch of parklands and residential neighborhoods in the Lorton, Springfield, Fairfax Station and Burke areas of the county and will simulate a three-day incident. The training is not only intended to practice and assess basic search and rescue skills, such as land navigation and various search methods, but also test the entire Incident Command Structure, new software and technology, mutual aid partnerships and operational period changeovers.

The training scenario will unfold the way an actual missing person search would. Participating SAR members are aware this training exercise is scheduled, but they will not be made aware of any incident details or timelines until they receive the call to respond from wherever they are.

Since this extensive training will take place in residential and recreational parts of the county, SAR personnel are encouraged to speak to any passersby or community members they might encounter, as if it were a real missing person search. However, they will advise anyone they approach that this is only a training exercise and SAR personnel have been instructed not to search or enter onto private property (backyards, fenced-in areas, under decks, etc.).

Media are invited to attend a portion of the training exercise:

WHAT: Ground Search and Rescue National Capitol Region Multi-Jurisdictional Training

WHEN: Saturday, August 20 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.//noon to 2 p.m. (rain or shine)

WHERE: South County Middle School, 8700 Laurel Crest Dr. Lorton, Virginia

CONTACT: PIO Monica Meeks at 703-246-2253 or First Lieutenant James Krause, Commander, FCPD Search and Rescue Team at 703-591-0966