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About the Initial Action stage

Page updated: 27 November 2020

Initial Action starts immediately after Awareness. It usually involves activating, mobilising, and tasking SAR resources. It also includes all activity associated with seeking amplifying information.

Initial Action relies on information received in Awareness

The quality and quantity of the information received in Awareness determines what will be done in the Initial Action stage. By analysing the information received in Awareness, people involved in Initial Action will establish whether significant search activity is needed or not.

Incident Controllers have four priorities during Initial Action

These are:

  • activating SAR resources
  • mobilising SAR resources
  • tasking SAR resources
  • seeking amplifying information.

Urgency is essential

The Incident Controller needs to make sure all activity that can be carried out, is carried out in a timely way. Where possible, the Incident Controller must try to:

  • locate the subject of the SAR operation early
  • minimise the search area size
  • minimise further harm and operational cost.

Treat incidents needing a response as in the ‘distress’ phase

If an incident is judged to need a SAR response after the Awareness stage, the incident should be considered as in the distress phase. The only exception to this is when there is clear evidence that the incident is not in the distress phase.

Initial Actions must be planned

Actions taken in the Initial Action stage must be planned and linked to a specific objective.

Initial Action can be pre-planned in readiness plans. Pre-planned Initial Actions should be linked to generic objectives for common scenarios described in readiness plans.

The Incident Controller should approve planned responses that are specific to the incident.

Several factors determine how quickly Initial Action can happen

These factors include:

  • how quickly an Incident Controller is activated and mobilised
  • how quickly the Incident Management Team (IMT) is activated and mobilised if an IMT is needed 
  • how quickly the Incident Controller can analyse the known information
  • how quickly the Incident Controller can find out what critical information is still unknown
  • how quickly other SAR resources are mobilised
  • how quickly the Incident Controller is able to start planning, set objectives, and assign tasks
  • how prepared the facilities are at the Incident Control Point 
  • the availability of SAR resources that are able to access the location of the incident
  • the general circumstances of the incident
  • the challenges associated with the location of the incident.
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