WA State SAR Planning Unit

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide SAR Planning expertise and resources to assist local command staff during extended or complex SAR incidents.  We are an all-volunteer unit, and can be requested by any Washington State county via the WA Emergency Management Department.


Remote and on-scene planning resources utilizing sophisticated search theory.


Our team is made up of volunteers with many years of search and rescue work.


Tools and resources we have developed from our knowledge and experience.

SAR Training

Classes and Presentations

In addition to the search planning work we do, we also provide educational services.

Online presentations on search theory:

  • In 2020, in conjunction with Cascadia Search Dogs,  we presented a 3 part online class on Search Theory for K9 Teams that had 95 participants including people from other parts of the world.
  • In 2021, our Vice-president presented “Search Theory at 10,000 feet”.

We also do training on the use of SARTopo, a search mapping program used by SAR teams. We travel around the state to provide in-person training to SAR teams. We present at conferences as well as publish papers.

Black dog looking at a computer

 Latest Missions, Projects & News

Recognition, Well Deserved

Recognition, Well Deserved

On September 17, 2022 WASSPU Members Guy Mansfield and Lauren Heitmann were recognized by the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office for their work on the Devil's Slide Mission in November, 2021. This mission was very large in scope and lasted 12 days. Lauren and Guy were...

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WASARCON is June 20 – 26, 2022

UPDATE: The 2022 WA State SAR Conference has been cancelled. Several members of WASSPU will be doing presentations at WASARCON this year. Planning for an Evidence Search - Eric Rosenberg & Guy Mansfield SARTopo for Field Responders with Practice - Eric Rosenberg...

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2021 Year in Review

2021 Year in Review

In 2021, the Washington State SAR Planning Unit supported 18 missions located in 8 different Washington counties and in all three Washington national Parks. 83% of these missions were in wilderness areas, and several of the mission spanned a large number of days. Over...

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When is WASSPU Activated?

WASSPU is usually called in after the first operational period (24hr search day) if nothing has been found and the search planning needs to be more sophisticated. smaller rural counties often don’t have a lot of depth in the search teams so we are able to augment what they have with the work we do.

We specialize in:

  • Providing remote or on-scene planning resources
  • Recommending search planning strategies and tactics
  • Providing technical search mapping services
  • Applying modern search theory to extended search & rescue incidents.


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Our Work

WASSPU primarily provides sophisticated search planning services that utilize search theory, best practices for planning techniques, cell phone forensics, mapping and so much more.