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 What is VSP? 

The Virtual Search Planning process, or “VSP” is a method by which relevant data associated with a Lost or Missing person is collected, analyzed, and then documented for search and rescue Incident Commanders or Planning Section Chiefs  which guides search and rescue personnel to zones of probability or actual points where the subject is likely to be.

Who developed VSP?

VSP was developed by Paul Burke, a retired Alaska State Trooper and a search and rescue professional who has been involved in more than 1000 search operations at the Incident Commander or General Staff level. Mr. Burke has taught SAR Management  for more than 30 years and has been involved in SAR spanning a career of more than 40 years. He has worked as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Technical Specialist for Team Adam with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In that capacity Mr. Burke assisted with the location and recovery of more than 4000 children displaced during Hurricane Katrina.

What is the cost to produce and deliver a VSP?

The production and delivery of a Virtual Search Plan is free to the Agency having jurisdiction (AHJ). Currently, the cost is born by the agency or person conducting the VSP as a public service. All Analysts work pro-bono or are  supported by their organization as part of their regular business.

What is contained in a VSP?

The VSP is a written report and/or through components of NIMS-compatible Incident Action Plan specific to the missing / lost person and the environment they were lost in. It contains the points of information, an analysis, mapping and other data used by SAR planners and resources to indicate where a subject is likely to be.

How is the VSP Analysis performed?

The VSP involves the analysis of  factors unique to every search including: Lost Person Behavior and the relevance of physical, psychological, and pharmacological influences on the subject, statistical data gathered from more than fifty-thousand search and rescue incident reports from around the world,  evaluation of all transportation modes, review and analysis of current and historical weather (METAR) data, terrain and vegetation information, cell and radar forensic information, and other data unique to the incident. This data is then evaluated through a "human algorithm" heavily dependent on the experience of the VSP Analysis team members.

Who actually does the VSP?

At the beginning of any VSP, a Lead Analysis is identified who guides and directs the VSP Team. They collect the data necessary to make the Assessment. Analysts from a wide variety of technical fields are called and gathered in a "virtual environment" where they collect and review the data. The Lead Analyst is responsible for the final product and report, but every Analyst  must agree on the final assessment and VSP report or IAP. 

How long does a VSP take?

From initiation by the requesting agency to delivery of the analysis, the VSP is completed in two hours or less. Once completed within its “two hour” window, it is delivered to the requesting agency or Incident Commander via electronic document in the form of an Incident Action Plan (IAP) or VSP Report, which can be acted upon by any competent Incident Command structure. It is highly recommended that the VSP process be initiated on "first notice" by the AHJ to give the best possible outcome to the missing person.  It is a free service to any requesting agency for SAR. 

Can the VSP process be used on cold cases?

Yes, in fact Analyst have been called to assess older cases where the missing subject has not been located.

Can VSP be used in my current search or missing persons case?

The best answer to this is to have the AHJ contact a VSP Analyst to determine if this process is valid for the incident in question. Call for VSP!

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