It seems a fitting way to start this blog by talking about this story, and how the Coast Guard used a social networking tool to find a missing fisherman. Essentially what happened is this: Call comes in that there is a truck and trailer, no signs of a meriner and it is past time where the mariner should have been sited. This means that the Coast Guard is going to search, and all searches are a little different. In this case they used the liscence plate to find a name for the owner of the truck…but before deploying assets (remember this part of the process from call to launch is vital, and can never EVER take too long) one of the SAR controllers decides to try something just a little different.
He searched on Facebook. As luck would have it…this worked and he ended up with not only an address but a phone number. Calling that number the SAR controller was able to speak to the fisherman directly.
I am sure there are people out there freaking out (OMG!! WTF! YOU CAN’T CONDUCT SAR USING FACEBOOK!!!) No…you can’t. You have to use the processes and follow the policies that are in place. That being said a good SAR controller is going to think outside the box and use any possible tool to successfully search for a missing person or vessel. Social media is providing new tools to the Coast Guard and this is just one more example of the plethora of uses we can find for it when we try.
Reading this article, and having championed social media to the Coast Guard for a while, I had this little voice in my head saying neeeener neeeener! Of course not being the mature choice instead I emailed the story to a bunch of people instead. A subtle electronic neener is much more mature than running around the office singing like a 5 year old.