Search parties are a wonderful thing. A search party is an organized group of people who have joined together to find something or someone that is missing – human compassion and selflessness at their finest. Notwithstanding the good that search parties do, they often receive very little media attention beyond “search party finds . . . .” A search party in Iceland recently discovered the exception to the rule and made a name for itself.
The search party in question was formed by a group of tourists to search for a missing woman near Iceland’s Eldgja canyon. They searched for several hours before they realized that the missing woman was actually part of the search party. Deathandtaxes has already done this story justice in a recent post, but I do want to take this opportunity to provide a checklist for future search party members so that they may avoid embarrassing media attention:
1. Determine what or who you are searching for. I mean, this in the most basic sense possible. For example, make sure everyone in the group knows that you are searching for a human being if that is what you are looking for. This will eliminate the possibility of time-wasting “false alarms” like “Hey, everyone, I found the dog!” when the group is actually looking for a missing teenage human.
2. Determine how you will identify the person or thing if you encounter it. If you have a photograph of the subject of the search, that is ideal. If not, some sort of description is necessary. For example, if you are searching for a person, the group may want to know the hair color of the person, the height and weight, the age, the skin complexion, and/or similar characteristics. If the subject of the search is a human or animal, knowing the name of the subject is helpful. That way members of the group can call out to the subject of the search by name while searching.
3. Periodically examine the group for new members. This step serves two functions. First, when the group realizes it has a new member, it will know to brief the new member on items one and two on this checklist. Second, if the subject of the search has in fact joined the search, you will know to call off the search because the subject of the search has been located.
4. Have fun, but stay focused. Search parties are normally a serious endeavor, so you will want to stay focused on the task at hand. However, a search party by definition is still a party, so have fun with it. Put on your camo, bring your outdoor gear, and channel your inner woodsman.
Disclaimer: While the checklist above does provide good advice to search partiers, it should not be interpreted as legal advice, nor is it meant to encompass all of the guidelines that search parties should follow. This author recommends that you consult a search party expert before joining a search party and initiating a search.
(Hat tip: Walter Olson).