Rescue crews train in mock search

Photo courtesy WISH
Photo courtesy WISH

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Missing person’s searches often take place in the city limits, but the effort takes a rough turn if it’s needed in the woods. On Saturday, rescue crews from in and around Marion County held their first ever mock exercise preparing for just that: searching for someone in a rugged, unmapped area.

“We have horse patrol out here, we have our helicopter, K-9, bomb squad,” said IMPD Deputy Chief Bill Lorah. This search and rescue centered around a class field trip at Eagle’s Crest Nature Preserve in Indianapolis. “One of the children on the field trip got lost or persuaded to go away, and it wasn’t recognized until later on in the day,” Lorah said.

This exercise involved volunteer actors, among them a teacher and two students. One, an 11-year-old girl, went missing. Within an hour, search crews arrived, were briefed and sent out. “This could happen at night, so this gives familiarity on how do you search in a wide open area, in a big park or big wooded area,” Lorah said.

Police dogs quickly covered large areas and found clothing left behind to track the scent. They also located a person of interest who was questioned as the possible abductor. Lorah said this exercise is important for a few reasons: to familiarize crews with unwelcoming terrain and build cooperation among the many agencies involved.

“We’re going to be much better at what we do based on this exercise,” he said.

IMPD and IFD said that within 90 minutes, the missing girl was found. After the exercise, rescuers talked about want went well and any improvements that might need to be made in a real life situation.

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