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Inland SAR Planning Course

The five (5) day Inland SAR Planning Course is a comprehensive, "graduate-level" look at search theory and its application to land and air searches for missing persons and aircraft, focusing on wilderness, not urban, searches. The course consists of classroom lessons and practical, tabletop exercises. This course does not incorporate field training. Emphasis is on the planning necessary for effective area-type searching during an extended search using Probability of Success (POS), rather than just a few elements of POC or POD, to allocate limited resources to their best effect. In essence, what to do after the rapid (hasty) search and specialty resources have not found the search object. Additional topics include pre-plan development, legal aspects, NIMS ICS applied to SAR, the federal role in SAR, and related subjects. The course does not teach search tactics or technical procedures, as those are well covered from other readily available sources.

The course is directed toward SAR leaders in federal, state, and local emergency services and law enforcement, as well as Civil Air Patrol, international, and volunteer SAR agencies -- those few people who are responsible for the planning and overall conduct of inland search missions. Aiming to "find the objective fast," the course centers on tools to help SAR decision makers determine where to search, how to divide an area between limited search resources, and how to craft the overall search effort to gain the best increases in likelihood of success at each step. The tools are mathematically based and not for the faint of heart; they help quantify the uncertainties of the search problem to allow consistent application throughout a mission.

Classes begin promptly at 0800 on the convening date and graduate by 1530 on the fifth day. Prior to class, students should review and be conversant on the following from their own agencies in order to make class discussions more useful and help integrate class materials with their own search environments back home:

  • Search pre-plans
  • Decision making guidelines for where/when/how to search
  • Agreements and relationships with other SAR agencies
  • How their agency organizes on scene
  • Recent search missions
  • A firm grounding in SAR terminology and employment techniques, practical SAR experience, basic arithmetic and calculator skills, an understanding of local SAR mission management requirements, and an open mind are essential.
  • Download and review prior to start of class - Dennis Martin Search


Required: None.  Preferred: Basic Inland SAR Course. 

The target audience includes on-scene incident commanders and their planners, operations leaders, and mission coordinators.  The general searcher or search team leader, while arguably the most important part of the SAR team, will not find this course useful.


There is NO course or tuition fee for U.S. students (volunteers and government employees) directly involved in SAR planning and management activities.

  • The school supplies students with all required material.
  • Students are responsible for their own personal and travel expenses: transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, etc.  EXCEPTION: courses administered at USCG Training Center Yorktown offer berthing to the students 'on-base' at no charge.

Application Procedures

  • State, local and volunteer SAR personnel (example: Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Volunteer SAR Organizations, etc.)
    • Apply online or email the application criteria below to the Inland SAR School.
  • National Park Service
    • Apply through the NPS Deputy Chief of Emergency Services to the school. NPS employees should obtain permission from their supervisors to attend, and include that approval with their nomination.
    • Additionally, apply online or email the application criteria below to the Inland SAR School, with a copy to your regional employee development office.
  • U.S. Coast Guard - IMPORTANT - Course Attendance may be Unit Funded
    • Apply through your program manager to request a quota.  USCG course number is 341141. For this fiscal year’s class convenings, visit TQC.
    • Additionally, apply online or email the application criteria below to the Inland SAR School.
    • NOTE: This information is for students attending the Inland SAR Planning Course. The Maritime SAR Planner Course is designed specifically for persons working in maritime Rescue Coordination Centers; ISPC attendance is generally restricted to those same personnel.
  • Civil Air Patrol
    • Apply through National Headquarters CAP by using the link:  Your application will automatically send a notice of registration to HQ CAP and the National SAR School. Your state Wing Commander concurrence is mandatory for participation.
    • If you are "dual-hatted" (for example, local law enforcement and CAP), contact the school to determine your most appropriate attendance category and application route.
  • All other federal agencies (Department of Defense, Customs and Border Protection, etc.)
    • Apply online or email the application criteria below to the Inland SAR School.
  • Partner Nation Students
    • Apply through the Office of Defense Cooperation at the US Embassy in your country. US Coast Guard International Mobile Training & Education Catalog MASL number for this course is P116035.
    • NOTE: All partner nation student quotas are reserved for Inland SAR Planning Courses conducted only at TRACEN Yorktown.  Please review the ISPC schedule for the next available course date.

    For e-mail and faxed applications, provide the following information:

    First and Last Name
    Position/Title for your SAR duties
    Contact phone number
    E-mail address
    Requested course location (City/State)

    Submit application information via either fax to 757-856-2242 or e-mail


Agencies or organizations wishing to sponsor the Inland SAR Planning Course should email their intent with all contact information to  Download and review our Sponsor Requirements and Student Selection Guidance for more information on sponsoring a course in your area.

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Last Modified 3/21/2016