Rescue workers and emergency responders are the first to arrive on the scene after a disaster, often in unfamiliar surroundings and in inclement weather, ready to save lives and secure the environment to help protect the lives of those who come after them. Around piles of rubble, other debris, or collapsed structures, rescue workers and emergency responders may be involved in emergency medical operations involving victim rescue or body recovery.
Search and rescue (SAR) operations are extremely difficult. It has different sub-fields that can be deployed depending on the situation or geographical location, such as ground, sea, natural disaster, aerial, and mounted search and rescues.
Due to the complexity and varying requirements of different operations, SAR teams require different supplies and equipment, which can be difficult to manage at times, particularly for those that are being moved constantly from one location to another.
Specialized vehicles, equipment, and supplies must be purchased and maintained (all are expensive tasks), and the logistics of managing these assets can be complex. Still, the constant demand and meticulous management for these supplies and equipment must be met in order for the SAR teams to function effectively.
Search and Rescue Supplies and Equipment
During operations, there are a lot of important things to consider but one of those is to make sure that the team is fully equipped with the essential supplies and equipment. There are items that come out from a storeroom and stay outside for a long time such as an individual response kit that is carried by the responder all the time and other items that come out only when needed.
Personal protection and specialized equipment are the things that help the operations become successful. These items must be managed carefully and should be available immediately specially for operations where rapid response is necessary to maximize positive outcomes.
Ways to Manage SAR Supplies and Equipment
SAR equipment consists of five types of equipment: medical, rescue, communications, technical support, and logistics. Task groups require certain allocation and the quantity depends on how small or big the groups are.
It is essential to record the equipment’s maintenance history. To know if equipment requires maintenance, the SAR team should keep track of how the assets were used, for what purposes, and by whom. There are ways to keep track of this information, these are:
- Manual tracking. The manual tracking process is often paper logs that can be easily crumbled and misplaced. This process usually misses detailed and important information which results in just guessing equipment’s required maintenance.
- Automated Equipment Tracking. Automated tracking uses software or a system that records important information such as cost, location, movement, historical use, and maintenance details, as well as expiration dates for some items.
Improving Search and Rescue Inventory Management
Search and rescue has a dynamic inventory. It has varieties of assets and multiple locations designated for every emergency and operation. The SAR team’s primary job in every operation is to assist citizens who are in distress. When there’s an emergency, every responder is so focused on providing assistance, and oftentimes, they don’t even think about keeping track of the equipment that comes in and out of the storeroom.
Nowadays, manual tracking of assets is no longer recommended. It makes it impossible to record everything accurately and swiftly and usually results in a lack of efficiency in equipment tracking.
Automated tracking or tracking using an equipment management system is the key to improving data records. Every supply and equipment is labeled with a barcode that can be quickly scanned during check-out or check-in. The team will no longer have trouble locating assets thanks to automation, as it will have records of who has them and when they were last used in the activity history. The team can also easily make a report by downloading the recorded information in the system.