Lost and Found... the newsletter of Volume 5, Issue 3
9 March 2000
Editors: Tom Russo, Mike Dugger,
and Susan Corban

Cibola Search and Rescue
"That Others May Live..."
Top of the Hill Boots and Blisters Business as Usual
Who's Who and New Gearing Up Mini Lesson
Member Spotlight Statewide SAR Notes Feature Article
Web News Disclaimer/Copyright
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Top of the Hill by Larry Mervine
On a recent mission in El Malpais lava field our team found ourselves discussing if we were lost. Like most missions we were given a task assignment, which included instruction from the local Forest Ranger. One item we were not given was a map of the area. This can happen. The Forest Ranger did say that the rock cairns (a pile of lava rocks) can be hard to see, specially at night. So we started out and the trail seemed to be easy to follow. Then after about hiking for three miles and three hours we could not find the next cairn. Looking back, we could not see the last cairn we had just come from. This could not have been more than five minutes from the previous cairn. So we area searched for about half an hour. We still could not find the trail. To top it off, base camp was requesting a location update.

The question is 'when does a team admit it is lost?' In our case, we had two choices. Since we had GPS coordinates for the other end of the trail, we could get a bearing and continue for another four miles to the end of the trail. The other choice was to get a bearing to our last point and return to base camp. We chose the second choice, because our legs began to feel weak and we wanted to leave at 6:00 a.m. And, we also figured we knew the trail we just came from rather than an unknown trail. On the way back we left one person on a cairn until the next cairn was located. Even using this method, a couple of times we had to look for the next cairn.

But, lets go back to the question of when or whether to admit you're lost. We discussed and decided that we would look for our last GPS coordinate for about half an hour. If we still could not find the trail, we would call base camp for help. We were told that you cannot trust compass bearings in the lava fields. But we found for general direction the compass worked fine, or at least we were able to find the trail again using the compass bearing. Each mission terrain is different. The resources each team has with them and the team's search experience all factor into the decision to admit they are lost. It is hard for a search team to say they are lost. But what is the alternative, dead. I rather be alive than be dead. Besides, your safety comes before the subject and the task assignment.

See you out there.

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Boots and Blisters by Tom Russo
Susan Corban led a great GPS training on 12 February. We practiced setting routes in our GPS units, marking points on maps using UTM coordinates, calculating distances to waypoints, and navigating a course through the forest using only GPS. Susan did a great job of illustrating the limitations of the GPS system --- members were asked to walk toward a waypoint using only the "compass page" of their GPS. In addition, Susan set out markers so that we could observe what a 100 meter radius circle looked like: remember that GPS units are limited in their accuracy by Selective Availability, and a location given by a GPS unit could be off by as much as 100 meters.

In addition to sending teams into the field, we started practicing ICS at this training. Expect ICS section chiefs will be working at "training base" at most future trainings.

On the subject of ICS, we have a large number of ICS Section Chiefs on the team now. While Cibola remains a ground team, we do also need to make sure our section chiefs keep going over their training if they plan to attend missions and serve in ICS roles. If you have had ICS Section Chief training and would like to be a section chief at any upcoming training, please let me know.

Our training in March will be on Saturday, 11 March at the Tijeras ranger station on South Highway 14 at 9am. The subject will be Tracking, taught by Owen Couch. Thanks to James Newberry for volunteering to handle the arrangements for this month.

The Wilderness First Responder class at UNM begins on Saturday, 25 March. This class will count as three Cibola trainings, one for each month attended. Remember also that members who are active at the time they complete the class are eligible for reimbursement for up to $150 for this class.

A note on "Search Techniques:" We've had a few search techniques evaluations where the teams have achieved only 65% POD, unlike the first few we offered in which 90% was the norm. Since it is pretty clear that this stuff isn't just "fire and forget," we'll have another Search Techniques training in April. Joyce Rumschlag and James Newberry have generously offered to lead this training, and Larry will serve as a technical advisor. I encourage our members to join them to practice this very important aspect of Search and Rescue.

Happy Trails.
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Business as Usual by David Dixon
PRESIDENT Larry welcomed new people Dennis Barnhart, Bill Campos, Aaron Hall, Vasily Lewis, Teddy Martinez.

MEMBERSHIP Paul Dressendorfer and Brian Lematta are the newest active members.

Michael Bridges, Steve Kulk and Art Fischer are new Prospective Members.

TREASURER Finances and balance for previous month are given. Financial statements for new year are available to those interested.

VICE-PRESIDENT/TRAINING The March 12th Training on Tracking has been moved to Sat. the 11th, Tijeras Ranger Station. Trainer is Owen Couch

February's Training is Saturday on GPS.

There will be a speaker on Dealing with the Mentally Disabled before the March Meeting, 6:30.

A 15 minute film on the Evacu-litter will be shown before the April meeting at 6:30.

EQUIPMENT James reminds everyone that CSAR has tape, batteries, MREs, rubber gloves available to members.

PR David brought Cibola posters, pamphlets and bookmarks for those interested in having a few on hand for PR purposes.

ICS COMMITTEE Jeff has started a new committee for Section Chiefs and others interested in ICS aspects of SAR. ICS forms can be downloaded from the N.M. Tech website.

STATE There will be a Wilderness Skills Training on Feb. 25-27 at Philmont. It will be an overnight bivy, cost of $20 which includes food, use of skis or snowshoes.

PACE There will be a ICS 200 and 300 course in March.

The WFR class is still open for those interested.

BUDGET COMMITTEE Budget Committee has the Budget for 2000. A motion is made by Mickey J. and seconded by Melinda R. to vote on it. Vote is unanimous for approval.

OLD BUSINESS Cibola finally got our FCC license for the old team frequency of 155.265. The call sign is WPPU605. A big kudo to Tom R. for his hard work in this matter.

Susan would like to start a "running group" before each meeting at 5:30. Meet at the end of Montgomery.

Mickey talks about possible Texas legislation that would ban radio/cell phones in vehicles. 17 states have passed similar laws.

Larry passes around a letter from the mother of 2 lost boys from a recent mission praising Cibola and others that took part in the search.

NEW BUSINESS Hike of the Month will be off the Windsor Trail in the Pecos. Check the newsletter for information.

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Who's Who and New by Susan Corban
Erick Wankel and Bill Grantham have had orientations and you will be seeing them on missions. Welcome, guys.

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Gearing Up by James Newberry
Cibola Gear Committee Wish List:

List of equipment available for Active and prospective members to use on SAR activities. ( For SAR use only)

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Mini Lesson by Mike Dugger

GPS Do-It-Yourselfer

Welcome to the first edition of the "GPS Do-It-Yourselfer!" Today we'll learn how useful it can be to move data back and forth between your computer and your GPS, discuss how to establish communications between two GPSs, and between a GPS and a computer. First, we'll call up our GPS manufacturer and purchase every cable that they make....

OK, let's hold it right there. This is starting to sound like one of those woodworking shows that tell you how easy it is to make a beautiful dining room set out of old planks from a weathered barn. Yeah, sure. If I had all that equipment I would be making furniture for a living, too. Show me how to do it with a chipped chisel and a dull hand saw! But enough ranting already.

Santa brought me a cable to connect my GPS to my PC for Christmas, and after our last GPS training I got motivated to try it out. Since I know there are some free programs out there to upload and download data to the GPS, and since I am fundamentally a tightwad, I decided to check out a few and share my observations with you. So, below I will discuss how to get cabled, and then the results of my playing with four different software packages that you can download for free.

GPS Cables

Let me say at the outset that the information in this section applies most directly to Garmin GPS recievers, models 12, 12XL, 38, 40, 45, 48, 89, 90, 92, GPS II, II+, III, and Street Pilots. This is because I have a 12XL, and because some very clever and motivated people made a mold for the proprietary 4-pin connector that Garmin decided to put on the back of the above units. Why did Garmin use a non-standard connector? Beats me. Maybe of the thousands of connectors commercially available, this was the only way they could meet the tight constraints on space, weather resistance, and durability required by the GPS. Or perhaps it is the same reason that they sell three different cables with this whizbang connector on it (PC to GPS, GPS to GPS, and power) at $30 to $40 each, when it could all be done with one cable. You do the math. But I digress. Lucky for us, a guy named Larry with access to a numerically-controlled milling machine and an injection molder decided to make some. This has now turned into a "Purple Open Project," and his worldwide network of "pfrancs" will send you a kit from which you can make your own cable. Go to http://pfranc.com/projects/g45contr/g45_idx.htm to find your closest pfranc, and you're on your way. It should be possible to integrate the power, PC transfer, and GPS-to-GPS transfer functions into a single cable. I plan to try this with the connector kit I just requested. You'll need a few extra parts to make something like this, such as a piece of 4-conductor cable, a connector for the computer, a soldering iron and ohm meter. If you don't have access to this stuff, or just don't want to bother, some pfrancs will sell you a GPS-to-PC cable ready to go, for a lot less than you would spend with our friends at Garmin. Nothing against Garmin, but perhaps they will continue to do just fine without your money for cables.

Although I have very little experience with other models of GPS recievers, I have played with Magellan and Eagle Explorers and I know they have data ports on them too. I don't know if these manufacturers use standard connectors or something custom. But once you have the cable, the transfer of data to the PC and manipulation there will be the same.

GPS Software

At this stage, you might be thinking, "What's the big deal? Why would I want to share data between my GPS and my computer anyway?" I assure you that I'm not just another geek with too much time on my hands. I'm actually quite busy. But using the GPS and computer together can be really powerful. Let's say you are going to be hiking in the Pecos, and want to enter some coordinates of trailheads, trail junctions, peaks, water sources, or whatever in your GPS. You could sit with your GPS for an hour and enter a dozen waypoints by hand. It is fairly easy and intuitive to enter waypoints directly on the GPS, but let's face it, this is going to take a while. Alternatively, you could create a file on your computer containing dozens (or hundreds) of waypoints and download it to your GPS in a few seconds. The data must be entered in any case, but it is much faster to do this with your keyboard than directly on the GPS. You could have separate files for places we are frequently called to search, like the Sandias, Manzanos, Santa Fe ski basin, Mount Taylor, Rio Puerco, etc. Then when you are out there bushwhacking or four-wheeling, you'll know how far it is to the nearest trail. Another useful feature of data sharing is the creation and modification of routes. Consider that file containing waypoints for trailheads, junctions, and prominant places in the Sandia mountains. If you want to hike to a subset of these places in a particular sequence, you can use the PC software to create a route with the waypoints of interest. When downloaded to the GPS, the reciever will recognize this sequence of waypoints as a route and let you navigate to them, one after the other. Route creation with software is probably not very useful in preparation for an actual mission, since we never know exactly where we will be asked to go on a given assignment. However, the ability to download a file full of waypoints in the general area of a search could be very handy. This can be done so quickly that downloading waypoints in a target search area before heading out to a mission is quite feasible.

While the focus here is on software that can be obtained for free via the internet, I mention for completeness that very full-featured mapping software can be obtained at reasonable prices. If you want to plot waypoints directly onto digital maps, look at them in 3D, etc., this is the way to go. For example, see DeLorme's 3-D TopoQuads for around $99 (www.delorme.com). All of the programs below permit the basic transfer of data back and forth between the GPS and the computer. Note that while all these packages work with the Garmin GPS, not all of them work with other major brands. Check the ability of the software to work with your GPS before downloading and installing the software. I'll focus on differences in the programs here, particularly the ability to plot points on screen, and create and modify routes. I ran all of these on a Pentium II, 266 MHz with 64 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

PCX5 (ver. 2.09)
This is an MS-DOS application developed by Garmin to transfer data between their GPS and computers. It is a bit inconvenient to use in that takes over your system until you exit, making it impossible to do anything else like copy data out of a text file, while this application is running. It has a plot window to show the spatial relationship between waypoints, but offers no ability to include a grid or coordinate system on the plot. There may be a way to edit a route on screen to insert or delete points, but I could not discover how to do it in my short trial. Another bothersome detail is that if you prefer to use a particular coordinate system (like UTM/UPS) and a particular datum (like NAD83), then you have to load a custom configuration file with this information every time you start the program. All the files provided occupy 2.84 MB of disk space, but only 6 of the 20 files provided are required to run the application, and they occupy 757 kB of disk space. Several data files are provided, such as a world map and map of U.S. states defined in waypoints, which I did not find very useful. Contact Garmin technical support at http://www.garmin.com/support/, or mail to techsupp@garmin.com if interested in this program.

Waypoint+ (ver. 1.7.17)
This application was developed by Brent Hildebrand, and is a Windows application. Separate command, plot, and waypoint editing windows open as needed, depending on what you are trying to do. The plot window can be configured with a grid, and zooming is very easy to do by simply drawing a box around the area you wish to enlarge. Route editing is also fairly easy. Waypoints can be added, deleted, and moved around in pop-up windows that are created when you list the waypoints in a specific route. The main problem I had with this application is that the map grid is set to lat/long, and there is no way to change it. The coordinate of the mouse is shown at the top of the window in the selected coordinate system (like UTM/UPS), but the map grid is lat/long and that's it. The downloaded file is 1.06 MB, which extracts to 2.17 MB. I'm not sure what subset of these are required. Visit http://www.tapr.org/~kh2z/Waypoint/ to download this program.

G7ToWin (ver. A.00.02)
This program was authored by Ron Henderson, and is designed to work best with StreetAtlas (by DeLorme). On the plus side, it has a very intuitive (probably the best I evaluated) route editing tool, in which you can select waypoints from a list and insert in an existing route, create a new waypoint for an existing route, and create new routes. However, the most serious drawback is that it lacks any plotting capability, relying on use with StreetAtlas to take care of this. This removed it from further consideration for me, but you can visit http://www.proaxis.com/~crh/gps/g7towin/g7towin.htm to find out more about the program or download it. The zipped file is just 230 kB, and unzips to 661 kB, making it one of the smallest programs I evaluated.

GPS Utility (ver. 3.39.6)
I saved what I think is the best for last. I found and downloaded this program a couple of weeks after playing with the others, so I have not had as much time to evaluate it. However, I'm already impressed with its capabilities. Written by Alan Murphy, this program includes a descent route editor, as well as a plot window. The plot window uses grid lines in the selected coordinate system, so you can print a map of your points with a UTM grid on it. So, with this program you can create a route from waypoints downloaded from your GPS or typed in, modify it, see how the route looks on a map with UTM grids, and print it. This provides all the basic functionality I was looking for in a free GPS program. However, GPS Utility does not stop there. In addition to plotting points on a white background with a UTM grid, this program can work with digitized maps. Although I have not tested this with my own scanned map, it seems to be possible to import a map image as a bitmap, register the image to a coordinate system, and then plot your points on that map. Sweet! Visit http://homepages.enterprise.net/murphy/gpsu/index.html to find out more. The zipped file is 649 kB, and extracts to 1.78 MB. Some additional features may be activated for $30 by converting the unregistered copy of this shareware to a registered copy. Registering also lets you get technical support from the author. Not a bad deal!

Summary

Transferring data between your GPS and your computer can dramatically increase the usefulness of your GPS. You can make your own cable to supply auxilliary power and share data between your GPS and computer, or your GPS and another GPS, for under $15 plus some very easy assembly. There are many programs available for download via the internet for transferring data between the GPS and computer. One of the most full-featured is GPS Utility, by Alan Murphy. This program allows waypoint and route editing, plotting on a map with a grid in the desired coordinate system, and even the ability to plot points onto digitized maps.

I've gotta run now, and start entering all of those waypoints...Hey, if anyone is interested, perhaps we could make a team project out of putting waypoint files together for areas where we search!

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Member Spotlights
Mickey Jojola's Biorhythms Authored by Mickey's evil twin, Mikey

My story starts 500 years ago with the Mayflower. Wait, that's probably farther back than you want to hear. OK, I was born in Farmington, NM 35 years... What?? Too much information? Ok, ok, ok, I,ll move up the time frame, but you're missing some pretty interesting stuff.

While I was living in Oklahoma getting my graduate degree I began to train dogs. I worked with a friend of mine who was on the police department in OKC. While working with trailing dogs I became interested in SAR. Shortly after I moved to Albuquerque I got in contact with Cibola SAR (arrived in December and joined the team in February). Naturally, I fell in love with this 'hobby'. I've been with Cibola for about five years now. I still train and work search dogs. Many of you already know Jake, my buddy and search dog. I am currently training a German Shepard for trailing. I love incorporating the dogs into the ground search, it's very challenging. I also love the ground pounding aspect of SAR as well as the detective work involved. Currently I am the chairman of the NMESC (New Mexico Emergency Services Council), about to finish my term. I have enjoyed working with the teams around the state but I am ready to just do some searching. I hope to work with everyone soon either on a mission or on a training. Anyone interested in hiding for Jake just let me know, we're always 'looking for new people.' Ha!

Too bad you wouldn't let me start earlier. You missed some really good (and juicy) stories. Maybe another time.

JaKes artIcl by JaKe JoJoLa

hI my NaMe sI JakE. mY dAd is On yur TeEm aaand I wPOrk wITh Hem. I LikE tOO LoOk fOr PeePlE wItH my KnOse Itt eS fOn? mY Dad Letss mne GO wITh hem WeN hee HiKes AnD I GeT tO sMEll fOr lOst PeEpl.

mY fAvORiTe ThInGs ArE tO bE ScRAchEd On My tUmMy aNd mY nEk. I ReElY lIkE fod. I gEt tO PlAy tUg wHen I fInD A LoSt pEepl. ThAt mAkes mE HapPy!!! NeXt tIme yOu ?SeE mE pLeAse PeT my, I LiKE tHat?

ThAnK yOu 4 LeatIng Me TelL YoU aBot Me.

jAke

David Dixon tells us the following about his life in and out of SAR. Although not a true New Mexico native, I'm pretty close. I arrived here in 1958 as an eight year old, wide-eyed kid from Michigan when Eubank was recently paved and Old Town was not so old. Ten years and three public schools later my family moved to St. Louis and I stayed to get married, attend UNM and graduate in geology. After working as a geologist and a variety of other jobs I found myself with two kids, unsettled and with the desire to find a real career. I was teaching La Maze childbirth classes as a volunteer instructor at the time and that experience led me to teaching. So I went back to school for a year, gained a career and lost a wife. Twenty three teaching years later I guess I'd found my profession. And 18 years into my second marriage I know I found the right wife. Our blended family of five children, all of whom moved on to spouses and careers, has grown to include three grandchildren with one more on the way.

Teaching has been an enjoyable if non-profiting career. I have been at Eldorado High School for 22 years and taught most of the sciences including physics, geology, astronomy, Biology and even a class I designed called Energy, Economics and the environment. Like all of us in CSAR, I'm also Mr. Volunteer at school as I sponsor Science Fair, Science Bowl, many classes and too much else. The last few years I have found a new calling in technology and am now Eldorado's Technology Coordinator with only one class of physics. What is a Tech Coordinator, you say? I am in charge of all hardware, software and the network and do a lot of troubleshooting and 'ups' (setting up, following up and patching up!).

Education also runs in the family as my wife Rose is the principal at Hodgin Elementary and two of my daughters, a sister-in-law and brother-in-law are teachers.

I've spent a lot of time outdoors in and around New Mexico backpacking and camping. After many years of flailing away I think I've also become a pretty decent fly fisherman. You've got to love the outdoors to do what we do. I became involved in Cibola when my son-in-law, Scott Pierce, went to a meeting and talked me into coming the next month. And, although he and my daughter (and first grandson) took off for higher ground in Steamboat Springs in 1998, I stayed around. Scott was a very active member in his year or so with Cibola and SAR is obviously in his blood. He even had a short stint as Cibola secretary before he left. He has become a 'prospective' with Routt County SAR and is enjoying the avalanche and snow experience.

Cibola has been a rewarding experience and I've gained lots more outdoor knowledge, humbleness and friendships. I guess I've dug at least a small trench and am here for a while (or after my last mission until my old body gives out!). Back to Top
Web News by Watt Gnus

The team website can be accessed at http://www.cibolasar.org/
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Statewide SAR Notes by Nancy O'Neill
ESCAPE 2000! It's almost here and here is a sneak preview of the events we have planned*.

List of classes:

Plus, If you have never been to the Philmount Boy Scout Ranch, that alone is worth coming to Escape. This place is located in Northern NM and has a nice facility and the most organized system for tracking the thousands of Boy Scouts that come through there every year. The meals should be good and we really are, finally, going to have a vegetarian meals for those who are vegies.

I hope to see you all out there and both Mickey and I are not running for the NMESC Board again. If you would like to participate as a representative, please let Mickey or me know. There can be two members of one team on the Board and it is good to have a representative of us ground pounders on the Board. You also get the chance to improve ESCAPE! I promised to have ESCAPE not on Mother's Day and at different locations, I'm happy to say that I did accomplish this!

*"Planned" means acts of God and human acts that cause the class to not happen are not to be whined about. Back to Top
When The Subject Is Developmentally Disabled by Jeff Phillips
As I was considering the question, "What is important for searchers to know when the subject is developmentally disabled?" I relied on my experiences of ten years in services to persons with developmental disabilities (DD) as well as my one year with Cibola Search and Rescue and three years of training and education in the Incident Command System (ICS). Many issues and items must be taken into consideration when the subject is DD. These are presented within the ICS framework below. However, it is incumbent upon me first to dispel what I believe is an unproductive (perhaps even counterproductive) piece of information that is consistently given on searches involving persons with DD.

Mental Age Equivalents Add Little Value - Do Not Rely On Them, Ask For More Information

What images are conjured up when an Incident Commander (IC) says "the subject is a 28 year old mentally retarded girl with a mental age of 3?" I believe it is only natural for lay-people to focus on the "mental age of three" rather than the more tangible 28 year old female part. Everyone can picture a 28 year female. The description "mental age of 3", on the other hand, is much more difficult to picture. I submit that a description of this sort is no more valuable than if the IC was to say "the subject is a 45 year old male hunter who reads at the 5th grade level." It is hard to imagine what that information adds to the subject description.

Understand that the mental age equivalent is information we obtain and use in the DD field but only within a much larger context. Psychologists give age equivalents when conducting intelligence and adaptive skills testing which are used for classification purposes. These are combined with a variety of other pieces of information for the purpose of eligibility determination and placement within service sectors. Unfortunately, these labels are simple to use and easy to repeat regardless of their worth in dealing with the person being labeled. Unless the person providing the information is reading directly from the Psychologist's report it is probably an erroneous figure anyway; the best guess of the person providing the information. It would be a mistake for anyone to leave the IC (or Operations Section Chief) with the notion that the 28 year old woman in the example above has anything in common with a toddler.

The 28 year old female subject is a person first. She, like any other subject, has distinct personal characteristics which need to be taken into consideration by the Incident Command staff and the searchers. As the SAR Questionnaire (Parts A & B) is being completed all of the characteristics of the developmentally disabled person should come up. This information can then be transmitted to the searchers during briefing.

What You Should Know As A Searcher When The Subject Is Developmentally Disabled

The information gathered on the SAR Questionnaire is extensive. It is also categorized for quick reference.

SUBJECT INFORMATION. In this category you will learn a person's living situation. Do they live independently in their own home? With parents/family? In a group home or in a large facility? Information about the amount of support they need to live will surface. How much time are they left on their own? Do they have support staff or family members with them 24 hours per day? How much of the so-called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) do they do for themselves and how much is done for them?

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION. After the identification and clothing/style/color portions is the health information. In this category you will get to information specific to persons with developmental disabilities which should add value in both the planning and implementation of a search.

1. PHYSICAL CONDITION - Are they active/inactive? Do they walk/run well? Are they physically fit/heavy/obese? What is their stamina like during simple/strenuous activity?

2. MEDICAL CONDITION - Mental retardation is known as the person's "Primary Diagnosis." You need to ask if the person has a significant medical condition, or "Secondary Diagnosis?" Examples include cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, diabetes and heart ailments/high blood pressure. In many cases it is the existence of these secondary maladies (in conjunction with the mental retardation) that requires a person to have significant supports. Anecdotally, it seems that persons with DD are more likely to have significant secondary medical issues than the population as a whole. Information about Secondary Diagnoses will most likely have the greatest impact on a search.

3. PSYCHOLOGICAL - A person's developmental disability is generally determined in the psychological realm. It is a person's IQ score combined with functional, adaptive and behavioral assessments which determines how they are classified. People are classified as Learning Disabled, Mildly Mentally Retarded, Moderately Mentally Retarded, Severely Mentally Retarded, and Profoundly Mentally Retarded as their IQs are more standard deviations from the norm. Knowing a person's level of mental retardation should be more informative on the surface than hearing their alleged age equivalent. The operative words should conjure broadly similar ideas in searchers minds. In the profound range people have the lowest IQs and functional skills. They most often live in group homes or large facilities with 24 hour care and supervision. They generally need assistance with most aspects of living. In the severe range people have slightly higher IQs and skills but would normally have the same type of living situation and level of assistance as those in the profound range. [Aside: Be advised that if someone with severe or profound mental retardation is lost in a setting where SAR is called then there is reason to suspect abuse or neglect or some other unusual circumstances. In these cases there are outside investigative entities (DHI, APS, Law Enforcement) which should be involved. The reliability of the informants may be called into question as well.] People in the moderate and mild ranges of mental retardation and those that are learning disabled have progressively higher IQs and more developed functional skills. Many work and live semi-independently or independently with only periodic supports. With people in these ranges, especially, it will be important to learn as much as possible about the level of assistance they require, their physical and medical conditions and their psychiatric diagnoses and behavioral tendencies. Searchers will want to know if the person is verbal and how they might react when someone approaches them or calls out their name.

Psychiatric diagnoses are also considered "Secondary Diagnoses" to mental retardation. While persons with DD have psychiatric diagnoses just slightly more often than the population at large these illnesses are more acutely diagnosed in the DD population due to the fact that they are often exacerbated by the mental retardation and because persons with DD are usually in Long Term Care situations. Examples include clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and ACD. Many people have behaviors which are directly related to their psychiatric diagnosis. These range from self-abuse, hitting, spitting, property destruction, stealing and elopement (running away). Care givers should be able to tell the most disruptive behaviors, the frequency, intensity and behavior management techniques and crisis intervention plans. Searches will want to know how a person is likely to act when approached and how they react to strangers. Also, they will want to know if something like this has happened before and how the person handles times of stress.

4. MEDICATION - Persons with developmental disabilities are prescribed a wide variety of medications from routine medicines for allergies, high blood pressure and hypothyroidism to insulin for diabetics. Some are on significant amounts of "psychoactive" medications for control of seizures and mood alteration. Some common names are Tegretol, Mellaril, Neurontin, Depakote, Ritalin, and Prozac. Searchers will want to know: 1) When they last took medications, 2) when they are next due and 3) what might happen if medications are missed for 4, 8, 12, or 24 hours. In some cases it may be no problem in others it could be life or death such as for someone with a severe seizure disorder or with diabetes.

5. WHAT MIGHT SUBJECT DO IF LOST - The care giver might be able to provide significant insight in this area, especially if the person has a history of eloping or becoming lost for any reason.

The preceding discussion only touches on the host of issues that one confronts when providing services to people with developmental disabilities but it should provide a strong basis for searchers and Incident Command staff to take into consideration when the subject of a search is developmentally disabled. I cannot stress enough that the far too often used "mental age" is unreliable, misleading and confusing and should not be relied upon. Instead, a thorough description of the person using only the SAR Questionnaire (Parts A & B) should help obtain the necessary information to conduct the search. Keep in mind that people with developmental disabilities are people first. They can be described by identifying characteristics such as height, weight, gender, age, race, hair color, build, etc. They wear clothes of certain styles and colors and they will leave clues because they wear shoes and boots (sometimes they use prosthetics) and they eat and drink and smoke like other people. They might have medical and/or psychiatric diagnoses that put them into the High Urgency column on the priority chart. These situations will come to light and information should be forthcoming from the informant that is specific to the person. Taken as a whole it should be quite natural for the Incident Command staff to obtain details, make good plans, and pass good information on to the searchers during briefing without expending any more mental energy than usual and without oversimplifying and perhaps misleading searchers. Back to Top
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The contents of this newsletter are copyright © 1999 by their respective authors or by Cibola Search and Rescue, Inc., and individual articles represent the opinions of the author. Cibola SAR makes no representation, express or implied, with regard to the accuracy of the information contained in these articles, and cannot accept any legal responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions that may be made. Articles contained in this newsletter may be reproduced, with attribution given to Cibola SAR and the author, by any member of the Search and Rescue community for use in other team's publications. TML>