SEARCH AND RESCUE: WHAT TRIGGERS A MISSION
Not all reports of people missing turn into a search and rescue operation — but all reports of them are certainly logged because it’s the law.
"Any law enforcement agency that receives a missing person report from any citizen, will take a report," said Lt. Steve Knight of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
From there, the report is handed to dispatch and entered into a nation-wide missing person system. It’s then prioritized according to risk factors.
"High risk factors can be due to medical conditions, mental health, terrain, age of the person," Lt. Knight said.
Last year, there were 310 reports of individuals missing in Humboldt County. Only 25 search and rescue missions were conducted.
"We would not initiate a search and rescue for somebody who voluntarily left," Lt. Knight said.
If a search is necessary, the information is handed to the search and rescue coordinator.
"And we will start the process by doing what we call a pager-30 for sheriff department volunteers," Deputy Roy Reynolds said.
That means contact all volunteers in the program to see who can assist.
"Generally if we can get 5 to 10 people, we're generally in good shape with our searches up here," Deputy Reynolds said.
If need be they can pull resources from other counties, but he says most searches typically only last a couple hours.