KCSO VSAR’s Mantracking team are all trained in SAR techniques but have spent many additional hours of training, practicing and testing to learn a unique skill set allowing them to see what others would easily miss.
The identification of “sign” often means crawling on the ground inspecting the dirt, plants and stones that may have been disturbed by the passage of the search subject. Search Managers can make use of mantrackers to identify the Direction of Travel and narrow the search area significantly. In some cases, mantrackers can follow a subject through areas or in conditions that search dogs cannot.
Ideally, an experienced mantracker will be called to the Last Known Point of the missing person as soon as possible – before any of the existing “sign” is disturbed or obliterated. This will allow the mantracker to collect detailed information about the footwear impressions left by the subject. This information is crucial for the mantracker and may mean the difference between successfully following a subject and going nowhere.
After collecting and recording all of the available information from the scene, the tracker will begin following the sign to determine the direction of travel. Sometimes this means following the sign all the way to the lost person. Often the path indicates a general direction that was taken and other teams can move into the identified area and begin searching. If this is done by another tracking team it is called “sign-cutting”. This practice allows for a methodical approach to be taken in the fastest possible manner. If another tracking team is not available, then the area can be searched using normal search techniques. Either way, the search area is significantly reduced which increases the odds of finding the subject quickly.
Mantracking has proven to be a valuable resource that may help shorten the search