What a great day to get lost. It was warm and sunny spring day during a Boy Scout Camporee when 4 Scouts got lost. Of course the boys were lost on purpose as part of one of the largest Search and Rescue Merit Badge clinics in the history of the Scouting program.
The Search and Rescue Merit Badge is a relatively new badge. First introduced in 2012, it pulls together many aspects of Scouting skills like: first aid, map reading, command and control, and communications, to teach the kids the skills on how not to get lost and what goes on in an actual search and rescue operation.
The particular search and rescue MB clinic went past lecturing and book learning and actually involved real players from local fire departments, EMS, emergency management, law enforcement, and amateur radio communities to give the kids a realistic educational experience. More than 100 Scouts participated in the event; everyone had a vital role to play, from being the victim, to being on a strike team or part of the Incident Command Post. In fact, the Incident Command System is a vital part of the badge requirements and every Scout participating had to complete the FEMA ICS-100 training.
Amateur Radio played a key role in the weekend’s simulation as operation controllers, shadowing the players and reporting health and safety information during the simulation. The simulation participants used radio programmed with fireground frequencies, so using the amateur radio bands kept the participants safe while also not divulging any information that would affect the realism of the simulation. Local fire and emergency management were so pleased with the local ARES/RACES group’s handling of the event that it has opened the door for further joint operations.
Update (May 20, 2013): I received a thank you note from the Scout Executive of the Samoset Council, BSA: “Your participation, professionalism, and dedication contributed greatly to the success of the event.”