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MERIT OD Get Lost!

NOT ALL WHO wander are lost. But some are. From 1992 to 2007, for

example, the National Park Service averaged 11.2 search- and-rescue (SAR) incidents per day. And you don’t have to be in a remote national park to get lost. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, up to 60 percent of dementia patients will wander away from care at some point during their illness. Even Scouts occasionally lose their way — though some might echo Daniel Boone, who said, “I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.” Assisting the lost and

confused is the aim of the Search and Rescue merit badge, one of the newest merit badges. Developed by SAR professionals and Philmont Scout Ranch veterans, the badge shows Scouts how to fi nd search sub- jects, bring them to safety and avoid becoming lost themselves. To learn more, we caught up with

Doug Palmer, Philmont’s retired associate director of program, and Gary Williams, a New Mexico-based Scouter and SAR volunteer who got his start in SAR nearly 50 years ago as an Explorer Scout.

HOW CAPABLE ARE SCOUTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THIS BADGE? Like other merit badges, Search and Rescue off ers an introduction to the topic, not in- depth training or certifi cation. “This is not something where, when they com-



Help Scouts find their way through the Search and Rescue merit badge.

see in a younger Scout.” Palmer agrees but points

out that every Scout is diff erent. “You can have an 11-year-old

that could understand it fi ne,” he says. “It depends on the kids.”

THE REQUIREMENTS TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT COMMAND SYSTEM. WHAT IS THAT? “ICS is a system of managing any kind of emergency from a very small emergency to something as big as a hurricane,” Palmer says. “It starts with an incident commander, and

then that person has various staff members that report to him or her.”


to take one of the courses on the website to become familiar with it,” Palmer says. “We just want the kids to do that fi rst one, which covers all

plete this merit badge, they’re going to be able to immediately go out and do search and rescue,” Williams says. “The idea is to give them a good intro and whet their appetite.” Scouts who are interested in going

further could check into the Civil Air Patrol, whose cadet program involves kids from ages 12 through 18. Older Scouts might also be able to join local SAR teams, though age limits and training requirements vary.

SPEAKING OF AGES, IS THIS BADGE BETTER FOR OLDER SCOUTS? “I think older Venture-age Scouts would do better,” Williams says, referring to Scouts 13 or 14 and up. “It requires a level of maturity that you don’t really

the terminology and the reasons the ICS exists.” The required course, ICS-100, takes

about three hours to complete. It can be found at EMIWeb/IS/IS100b.asp.

THE BADGE CULMINATES IN A PRACTICE SEARCH. HOW WOULD YOU SET THAT UP? “You would have a hypothetical subject, you would have a point last seen, and you would have a missing person report fi lled out,” Palmer says. “Then the Scout who’s managing the search would assign teams to certain

FIND MORE leader guides to a range of merit badges at

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