The decision of when to call off a search is difficult, but has to be made when Incident Commanders have exhausted all their resources and options. IC’s tell the families first, then make the appropriate public announcements explaining their reasons. They usually spend several sleepless nights after, second guessing their own decision.
An equally difficult but behind-the-scenes decision comes in deciding what kind of dogs to deploy during a search. As SAR members start to field “cadaver only” dogs that don’t search for live people, Incident Commanders are faced with an overt decision to switch from dogs that find live people to dogs that find human remains.
And then, along comes a search in Japan, where a little boy is found alive more than a week after he was reported missing.
Human beings are resilient and can survive much longer than common sense and previous experience would indicate. This wonderful trait only complicates things for the already-complicated job of being an Incident commander.
About the only thing you can say is Never Give Up.
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