Glossary for NZ's SAR Guidelines

Page updated: 30 November 2020

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ACR

ACR is an abbreviation that stands for Alpine Cliff Rescue.

Activation (activating a SAR resource)

Activating a SAR resource involves identifying the SAR resource needed and contacting the SAR organisation that owns the resource to let them know what resources is needed and when it is needed by.

Alert phase

The alert phase is a period of time when someone in the SAR system knows that a subject is at risk of death, injury, or harm, and may need help, but they’re not in immediate danger. The key word for the alert phase is; apprehension.

Amplifying information

Amplifying information is information that expands on what is already known about a search and rescue incident and its subject.

Appreciation

Conducting an appreciation in a search and rescue operation means examining everything that is known about a situation to identify possible courses of action and formulate an Incident Action Plan.

Area of probability (AOP)

The area of probability or AOP is the area the subject is most likely to be in. The area of probability is calculated using all known information about the subject and their movements.

Available search hours (ASH)

Available search hours are the number of productive search hours SAR resources are available for. Available search hours are also referred to as ‘search endurance’ which can be abbreviated to ‘T’.

Awareness range

The Awareness range is the distance at which a search scanner can first detect something different from its surroundings but not yet recognise it (IAMSAR definition).

Awareness stage

Awareness is the first stage of a search and rescue operation. It occurs when the SAR system becomes aware of an actual or potential incident that may need a SAR response.

Captain

The captain is the master of a ship or pilot-in-command of an aircraft, or the commanding officer of a warship, or the operator of any other craft (IAMSAR definition).

Category 1 operation

A Category 1 (or Category I) operation is a SAR operation coordinated at the local level. Category 1 operations include land operations, subterranean operations, river, lake and inland waterway operations, and close-to-shore marine operations.

Category 2 operation

A Category 2 (or Category II) operation is a SAR operation coordinated at the national level. Category 2 operations include operations associated with missing aircraft or aircraft in distress, and off-shore marine operations within the New Zealand search and rescue region (NZSRR).

Communication search

A communication search involves broadcasting information to contact the subject or get information about the subject and their probable location.

Conclusion stage

The conclusion stage is the final stage in a SAR operation when SAR resources return to their locations and prepare for another mission.

Coordinated search pattern

A coordinated search pattern is a planned search pattern that is carried out by different SAR resources such as vessels and aircraft.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

Coordinated Universal Time is the international term for time at the prime meridian (IAMSAR definition).

Coordinating authority

The coordinating authority is the agency or body responsible for the overall conduct of the search and rescue operation. The coordinating authority will lead and manage the operation. The New Zealand Police and the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) are the recognised coordinating authorities in New Zealand.

Coordination

In search and rescue, coordination refers to bringing SAR organisations and SAR resources together to ensure an effective search and rescue response (IAMSAR definition).

Cospas-Sarsat System

The Cospas-Sarsat System is an international satellite system designed to provide distress alert and location data from 406MHz distress beacon signals (IAMSAR definition).

Course

A craft’s course is its intended horizontal direction of travel (IAMSAR definition).

Craft

A craft is any air or sea-surface vehicle, or submersible of any kind or size (IAMSAR definition).

Datum

The datum is a geographic point, line, or area used as a reference in search planning (IAMSAR definition).

Datum area

The datum area is the area where it is estimated that the search object is most likely to be located (IAMSAR definition).

Datum line

A datum line is a line, such as the distressed craft's intended track line or a line of bearing, which defines the centre of the area where it is estimated that the search object is most likely to be located (IAMSAR definition).

Datum point

A datum point is a point, such as a reported or estimated position, at the centre of the area where it is estimated that the search object is most likely to be located (IAMSAR definition).

Dead reckoning (DR)

A dead reckoning is a determination of the position of a craft by adding the last fix on the craft's course to its speed for a given time (IAMSAR definition).

Deploying

Deploying a SAR resource occurs when the SAR resource has been asked to go to a location to start a task.

Digital selective calling (DSC)

Digital selective calling (or DSC) is a technique that uses digital codes to enable radio stations to establish contact with, and transfer information to, another station or group of stations (IAMSAR definition).

Direction of current

The direction of current is the direction which a current is flowing towards. This is also referred to as ‘set’ (IAMSAR definition).

Direction of waves, swell, or seas

The direction of waves, swell, or seas is the direction from which the waves, swell, or seas are moving (IAMSAR definition).

Direction of wind

The direction of wind is the direction from which the wind is blowing (IAMSAR definition).

Distress phase

The distress phase is a period of time when the SAR system is aware that the subject is known to be at risk of death, injury, or harm, and they need immediate help. The keywords for the distress phase are ‘grave’ and ‘imminent danger’.

Ditching

Ditching refers to the forced landing of an aircraft on water (IAMSAR definition).

Drift

Drift refers to the movement of a search object caused by environmental forces (IAMSAR definition).

Emergency phase

Emergency phases indicate different levels of concern for the subject. The three emergency phases are uncertainty, alert, and distress.

False alarm

A false alarm is a distress alert that has been started by communications equipment intended for alerting when no distress situation actually exists, and the alert is not part of an appropriate test (IAMSAR definition).

False alert

A false alert is a distress alert received from any source, including communications equipment intended for alerting, when no distress situation actually exists, and a notification of distress should not have happened (IAMSAR definition).

Fetch

Fetch is the distance the waves have been driven by a wind blown in a constant direction, without obstruction (IAMSAR definition).

Fix

Fix is a geographical position determined by visual reference to the surface, referencing to one or more radio navigation aids, celestial plotting, or other navigation device (IAMSAR definition).

Forward looking infrared (FLIR)

Forward looking infrared is an imaging system mounted on board surface vessels or aircraft, designed to detect thermal energy (heat) emitted by subjects and convert it into a visual display (IAMSAR definition).

General communications

General communications are operational and public communications transmitted or received by radio excluding distress, urgency, and safety messages (IAMSAR definition).

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)

The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System is a global communications service based upon automated systems, both satellite-based and terrestrial, to provide distress alerts and announcements about maritime safety for mariners (IAMSAR definition).

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

The Global Navigation Satellite System is a worldwide system that uses one or more satellite constellations and receivers to determine position and time (IAMSAR definition).

GOSA

GOSA is an abbreviation for goals, objectives, strategies, and assignments (IAMSAR definition).

Ground speed

Ground speed is the speed an aircraft is travelling relative to the earth’s surface (IAMSAR definition).

Heading

A craft’s heading is the horizontal direction a craft is pointed in degrees magnetic (IAMSAR definition).

Incident Action Plan

An Incident Action Plan (or IAP) is an overarching plan that brings together different areas of search and rescue activity and documents how these areas will work together to achieve the operation’s goal.

Incident Controller

The Incident Controller (or IC) is the person at the coordinating authority who has overall responsibility for a SAR operation.

Incident Control Point

The Incident Control Point (or ICP) is a location where the Incident Controller and members of their Incident Management Team coordinate and manage a SAR operation.

Incident Management Team

The Incident Management Team (or ICT) is a team of specialists assembled for a SAR operation to provide expert advice to the Incident Controller.

Informant

The informant is the person who contacts a SAR coordinating authority and tells them about a possible SAR incident.

Initial Action

Initial Action is the second stage of a search and rescue operation. It starts immediately after Awareness, and it usually involves activating, mobilising, and tasking SAR resources.

Initial position error (X)

An initial position error is the estimated probable error of the position of a SAR incident that was initially reported (IAMSAR definition).

Instrument flight

Instrument flight is when the pilot of an aircraft navigates using only the instruments in the cockpit of the aircraft.

Instrument flight rules (IFR)

Instrument flight rules are the rules governing instrument flight. Instrument flight rules is also a term used by pilots and controllers to indicate the type of flight plan.

Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)

Instrument meteorological conditions or IMC are weather conditions where visibility, cloud ceilings, and cloud clearances are below the specified minimums and pilots must fly using instrument flight rules.

Knot (kt)

A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour (IAMSAR definition).

Last known position (LKP)

The last known position (or LKP) is the last place that the subject was seen by witnesses or detected by computer-based equipment.

Leeway (LW)

Leeway is the movement of an object through water caused by winds blowing against exposed surfaces (IAMSAR definition).

Local user terminal (LUT)

A local user terminal is a station on the earth that receives beacon signals relayed by Cospas-Sarsat satellites. The station processes the signals to locate the beacons and forwards the signals (IAMSAR definition).

Lost person behavior (LPB)

Lost person behaviour (or LPB) describes how people with certain characteristics typically behave when they are lost. Searchers can use statistics on lost person behaviour to predict a subject’s actions when lost.

Mayday

Mayday is the internationally recognised signal for distress. When repeated three times in radio communications, it signals a life-threatening emergency. Details such as self-identification, position, nature of distress and other useful information forms the distress message.

Medevac

A medevac is an abbreviation for medical evacuation.

Meteorological visibility

Meteorological visibility refers to the maximum range at which a large object, such as a landmass or a mountain, can be seen. Meteorological visibility is also referred to as ‘meteorological range’ (IAMSAR definition).

Mobilisation (mobilising a SAR resource)

SAR resources are mobilised when they receive a call from a SAR organisation confirming they are needed for a SAR operation and need to be in specific state of readiness as described in the readiness plan. SAR resources are usually activated before they are mobilised.

Most probable position (MPP)

The most probable position (or MPP) is the position the subject is most likely to be in. The subject’s most probable position is calculated using all known information about the subject and their movements.

New Zealand search and rescue region (NZSRR)

The New Zealand search and rescue region is a defined geographical area where New Zealand is responsible for providing search and rescue services.

On-scene

On-scene refers to the location of the search area or the site of distress (IAMSAR definition).

On-scene coordinator (OSC)

The on-scene coordinator is a person designated by the Incident Controller to coordinate search and rescue operations within a specified area. The on-scene coordinator will be at the location of the search area or the site of distress (IAMSAR definition).

On-scene endurance

On-scene endurance refers to the amount of time a SAR resource can spend at the scene carrying out search and rescue activities (IAMSAR definition).

Operational log

An operational log is a chronological record of everything associated with a specific SAR incident.

Overdue

A person or craft is overdue if they have not arrived at their intended destination in the expected time.

PAN-PAN

PAN-PAN is the internationally recognised signal for urgency (IAMSAR definition). When repeated three times, it indicates uncertainty or alert. Information that follows should indicate the nature of the urgency.

Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Personal locator beacons is a radio transmitter that can send alerts and transmit homing signals (IAMSAR definition).

Pilot in command (PIC)

The pilot in command (or PIC) of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is responsible for its operation and safety during flight.

Planning stage

The Planning stage is the third stage of a SAR operation. It focuses on developing and confirming and effective an Incident Action Plan.

Police comms

Police comms is an abbreviation for Police Communication Centre. Police Communication Centres are call centres operated by the New Zealand Police. Police Communication Centres assume control for all incidents reported to them until they hand them over to specialists.

Position

The position of a person or object is its geographical location normally expressed in degrees and minutes of latitude and longitude (IAMSAR definition).

Positioning

Positioning is the process of determining a position that can serve as a geographical reference for conducting a search (IAMSAR definition).

Possibility area

In search and rescue, the possibility area is the smallest area containing all possible search subjects (IAMSAR definition).

Probability area

Probability area is another term for area of probability or AOP. The area of probability is the area the subject is most likely to be in. The area of probability is calculated using all known information about the subject and their movements.

Probability of detection (POD)

The probability of detection (or POD) is a term that refers to the likelihood of the subject being detected assuming it was in the areas that were searched. The probability of detection is calculated by considering the coverage factor, the effectiveness of the sensor in the search conditions, and how accurately the search pattern is carried out by the searcher.

Readiness plan

Readiness plans are plans created by SAR organisations and coordinating authorities. They outline possible responses to different SAR incidents and include everything that can be pre-planned. Readiness plans have a number of different names including district mobilisation plans (DMP), pre-plans, contingency plans, response plans, and incident response plans.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ)

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is one of two coordinating authorities in New Zealand. The RCCNZ is responsible for Catergory 2 SAR operations in the New Zealand Search and Rescue Region.

Rescue operation

A rescue operation is an operation that focuses on retrieving people in distress, giving them medical or other help, and delivering them to a place of safety.

SAR

SAR is an abbreviation for search and rescue.

SAR datum buoy

A SAR datum buoy is floating beacon that can be dropped in the water to determine current. It can also be used as a reference point for location.

SAR system

The SAR system is the network of organisations involved in search and rescue. It includes coordinating authorities, SAR partner agencies, other SAR organisations, as well as organisations with a more strategic focus such as NZSAR, the NZSAR Council, the NZSAR Secretariat, and the NZSAR Consultative Committee.

SARdonyx

SARdonyx is the name of the computer system SAR organisations use to record information about a SAR incident.

SAROP

SAROP is an abbreviation for search and rescue operation.

SAR partner agencies

SAR partner agencies are national organisations that provide people and equipment to SAR coordinating authorities through a formal service agreement with NZSAR.

SAR organisations

SAR organisations include the SAR coordinating authorities and SAR partner agencies.

SAR resources

SAR resources are people and equipment involved in a search and rescue operation.

Scenario

In search and rescue, a scenario is a combination of known facts and assumptions describing what may have happened to the subject.

Sea current (SC)

The sea current (or SC) is the current that remains when currents caused by tides and local winds are subtracted from local current. Sea current is the main, large-scale flow of ocean waters (IAMSAR definition).

Search and rescue facility

A search and rescue facility is any mobile resource, including designated search and rescue units, used to conduct a search and rescue operations (IAMSAR definition).

Search and rescue incident (SAR incident)

A search and rescue incident (or SAR incident) is a situation that needs to be reported to a SAR organisation because a subject may be in danger and may need a SAR operation.

Search and rescue operation (SAROP)

A search and rescue operation (or SAROP) is an operation undertaken by a coordinating authority to locate and retrieve persons missing or in distress. The intention of the operation is to save lives, prevent or minimise injuries and remove persons from situations of peril by locating the persons, providing for initial medical care or other needs and then delivering them to a place of safety.

Search and rescue region (SRR)

A search and rescue region is a defined geographical area of the world that is the responsibility of a particular country. That country will provide search and rescue resources within that region (IAMSAR definition).

Search and rescue stage

Search and rescue stages are the parts of a search and rescue operation. The first stage is Awareness. This is followed by Initial Action, Planning, Operations, and Conclusion.

Search and rescue unit (SRU)

A search and rescue unit is a SAR resource made up of trained personnel and equipment. Search and rescue units must be capable of carrying out search and rescue activities effectively and efficiently. They can be air, maritime, or land-based, and they can belong to state authorities, or to non-government or voluntary organisations.

Search area determination (SAD)

The search area determination (or SAD) is a defined area that searchers believe the subject may be in. Search area determinations are calculated using variables such as the subject’s last known position, the initial planning points, environmental conditions.

Search endurance (T)

Search endurance (abbreviated to T) is the number of productive search hours SAR resources are available for. Search endurance is also referred to as available search hours or ASH.

Search operation

A search operation is normally coordinated by a rescue coordination centre using available SAR resources to locate people in distress.

Search pattern

A search pattern is a method of searching that follows a defined pattern.

Search radius

A search radius is a calculation based on a datum point, probable error, and a safety margin. The search radius is used to plan the search and to assign search facilities.

Sector supervisor

The sector supervisor coordinates teams in the field within an assigned sector and reports to the operations manager.

SÉCURITÉ

Sécurité is a procedure word used in Marine VHF radio. When repeated three times, it indicates the station is about to transmit an important safety message about navigation or weather.

Sensors

Sensors are things capable of detecting the subject of a search. Sensors include electronic devices as well as senses such as sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste that are possessed by searchers such as people and dogs.

Set

Set is the direction which a current is flowing towards. This is also referred to as ‘direction of current’.

Situation report (SITREP)

A situation report (or SITREP) is a report about the SAR operation that informs SAR resources and other interested people about what is happening at a specific time.

SMART

In search and rescue, SMART is an abbreviation of terms used to test an operations objectives. The words the abbreviation is based on are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

SOS

SOS is an internationally recognised signal for distress.

Staging area

A staging area is a location where resources are kept temporarily before being tasked.

Subject

In search and rescue, the subject is the focus of the operation (it is the thing that needs to be located and rescued). The subject may be a person, a group of people, a vessel, an aircraft, or vehicle.

Subject profile

A subject profile is a collection of specific information about the subject including what they look like, their physical and mental condition, and other specifics.

Sweep width

Sweep width is a measurement of how effective a type of sensor is at detecting a particular object in specific environmental conditions. It is also referred to as ‘effective sweep width’.

Tasking

Tasking a SAR resource means assigning the SAR resource a specific action to perform in a particular area.

Total drift vector (TDV)

Total drift vector (or TDV) is the sum of the total water current and leeway (the movement of an object through water caused by winds blowing against exposed surfaces). The total drift vector is sometimes referred to as total drift.

Team leader

A team leader is a search and rescue specialist who has the skills to safely and efficiently lead a search team in carrying out its assigned tasks.

Total water current (TWC)

The total water current (or TWC) is the vector sum of currents affecting search objects.

Track spacing (S)

Track spacing refers to the distance between adjacent search tracks that are parallel.

Triage

Triage refers to the process of sorting survivors according to medical condition and assigning them priorities for emergency care, treatment, and evacuation.

True air speed (TAS)

True air speed is the speed an aircraft is travelling through an air mass. When true air speed is adjusted for wind it becomes the ground speed.

Uncertainty phase

A period of time when a subject’s safety is in doubt. The key word for this phase is ‘doubt’.

Unreported

In search and rescue, a craft is unreported when it has not reported its location or status and remains missing.

Vector

A vector is a graphic representation of a physical quantity or measurement, such as wind velocity, that has both magnitude and direction.

Vessel

A vessel is a ship or boat.

Visual flight rules

Visual flight rules are the rules for how a pilot must operate an aircraft when weather conditions are clear enough for the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. It is also a term used by pilots and air traffic controllers to indicate the type of flight plan.

Visual meteorological conditions (VMC)

Visual meteorological conditions (or VMC) are weather conditions where pilots have enough visibility to fly the aircraft using visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions are conditions when visibility, cloud ceilings, and cloud clearances are equal to or better than the specified minimums.

Wind current (WC)

Wind current (or WC) is the water current that is generated by wind acting upon the surface of water over a period of time.