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Considering possible scenarios

Page updated: 30 November 2020

Search plans need to be based on what is likely to have happened to the subject. Determine the most likely scenario by identifying, developing and analysing possible scenarios.

Consult experts to identify possible scenarios

Consult people with expertise in:

  • what the subject was doing (for example, caving, flying an aircraft, tramping)
  • the area where the subject is missing.

Examine what you know about the subject and the incident, and work with experts to identify possible scenarios.


Develop possible scenarios

Once you’ve identified possible scenarios, use the Scenario Recording Sheet to develop each scenario by adding evidence or factors used:

  • facts about the incident
  • assumptions made by the experts you've consulted.


Ask members of the Incident Management Team to analyse possible scenarios

Members of the Incident Management Team (IMT) should test developed scenarios against what is known about the incident. When doing this, members of the IMT should consider:

  • evidence that would prove or disprove the scenario
  • the profile of the subject
  • the geographical area where the incident occurred and its terrain or sea conditions
  • advice about what is needed to respond effectively to the incident (for example, an incident involving a subject who is known to fear strangers will require a specific response and expertise)
  • statistics on lost person behaviour
  • the search area.


Determine the most likely scenario

Each member of the IMT needs to rank the likelihood of each scenario. The scenario with the highest overall ranking should be considered the most likely.


Record the analysis on the NZSAR Scenario Weighting Worksheet

This worksheet:

  • explains how to rank scenarios
  • demonstrates how to determine the most likely scenario
  • provides a clear structure to record the analysis of possible scenarios.
Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police