National Search And Rescue Committee

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National Search and Rescue Committee logoThe NSARC is a coordinating and deliberative body of Federal agency representatives that share a common interest for the national improvement of civil search and rescue policy, procedures, effectiveness, and standardization.  The purpose of the Committee is to coordinate and provide guidance for the implementation of the National SAR Plan (NSP).

During the National Search and Rescue Conference of 1973, conference participants recognized the administrative void and concluded that a permanent committee needed to be established in order to oversee the administrative safeguarding of the United States National Search and Rescue Plan and to act as a coordinating medium for discussions involving national SAR related matters.  Acting upon the Conference conclusion, the Secretary of Transportation, under DOT order 1120.28 dated 21 May 1974, established through a written inter-agency agreement the Interagency Committee on Search and Rescue (ICSAR) which was charged to carry out the aforementioned functions.  The title name given to the inter-agency committee remained in effect from 1974 until a 1999 revision to the inter-agency cooperation agreement changed the committee’s title name to the “National Search and Rescue Committee (NSARC)”.



2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE * Washington DC 20593
Phone: (202) 372-2090 * Facsimile: (202) 372-8357*
Email NSARC Secretariat here

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Catastrophic Incident SAR


A catastrophic incident, as defined by the National Framework, is any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic incident could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to State, local,tribal, and private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened. All catastrophic incidents are Incidents of National Significance. These factors drive the urgency for coordinated national planning to ensure accelerated Federal/national assistance.


  • Catastrophic Incident SAR Addendum--June 2023
    The Catastrophic Incident SAR Addendum (CISAR) reflects up-to-date processes for Emergency Support Function (ESF) #9, SAR coordination, and encapsulates all that has been learned from decades of experience. The NSARC aims for the CISAR Addendum to continually improve national preparedness and SAR response to catastrophic incidents in support of States, Tribes, Territories/Insular Areas, and local authorities. Version 4.0 provides additional information and lessons learned from disasters that have occurred since Version 3.0 was promulgated. This version has updated guidance to help agencies conduct CISAR operations in increasingly complex, confusing, and challenging environments for multiagency response.
  • Emergency Support Function #9--May 2013
    Under the National Response Framework, Emergency Support Function (ESF) #9 assigns responsibilities of the Primary and Support Agencies in the conduct of search and rescue operations under the Stafford Act.
  • USCG Incident Management Handbook, COMDT Pub P3120.17B--May2014
    The newly revised 2014 version of the Coast Guard Incident Management Handbook (IMH) is designed to assist Coast Guard personnel in the use of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) during multi-contingency response operations and planned events. The Incident Management Handbook is an easy reference job aid for responders."

FEMA Documents and Links

  • FEMA Directive: Use of the United States National Grid (092-5)
    The purpose of this Directive is to require use of the USNG as FEMA’s standard geographic reference system across all preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery activities as well as land-based and land-air operations and to provide instruction for effective implementation.

  • National Preparedness )(Second Edition) -- September 2015
    The National Preparedness Goal is: A secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.
  • National Preparedness System
    The National Preparedness System outlines an organized process for everyone in the whole community to move forward with their preparedness activities and achieve the National Preparedness Goal.
  • National Planning Frameworks Resource Center
    The National Planning Frameworks, one for each preparedness mission area, describe how the whole community works together to achieve the National Preparedness Goal. The Goal is the cornerstone for the implementation of the National Preparedness System. 
  • Emergency Support Function #9 - Search and Rescue Annex (June 2016)
    The National Response Framework (NRF) is a guide to how the nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. It is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System to align key roles and responsibilities.
  • National Response Framework (Fourth Edition) -- October 2019
    The National Response Framework is a guide to how the Nation responds to all types of disasters and emergencies. It is built on scalable, flexible, and adaptable concepts identified in the National Incident Management System to align key roles and responsibilities across the Nation.
  • National Incident Management System (NIMS), Third Edition (October 2017)
    The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment. NIMS works hand in hand with the National Response Framework (NRF). NIMS provides the template for the management of incidents, while the NRF provides the structure and mechanisms for national-level policy for incident management.
  • Community Lifelines Resource Center
    FEMA uses Community Lifelines to present incident information,  understand and communicate incident impacts using plain language, and promote unity of effort across the whole community to prioritize efforts to stabilize the lifelines during incident response.  Search and Rescue information is reported within the Safety and Security Lifeline.
  • National Incident Management System
    The National Incident Management System (NIMS) guides all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from incidents. NIMS provides stakeholders across the whole community with the shared vocabulary, systems and processes to successfully deliver the capabilities described in the National Preparedness System. NIMS defines operational systems that guide how personnel work together during incidents.
  • National Incident Management System Guideline for Mutual Aid (November 2017) 
    The National Incident Management System Guideline for Mutual Aid supplements the Resource Management component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by providing guidance on different types of mutual aid agreements, the key elements of a mutual aid agreement, and the key elements of mutual aid operational plans used for implementation..
  • National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) -- Version 2.01 (March 2022)
    This guide is a technical reference designed to support incident communications. The pocket-sized publication has a listing of land mobile radio (LMR) frequencies that are often used in disasters or other incidents where radio interoperability is required, and other information useful to emergency communicators developed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). 
  • Response and Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plan - First Edition (March 2023)
    The Response and Recovery Federal Interagency Operational Plan (FIOP) guides federal departments and agencies in executing the response and recovery mission areas of the National Preparedness Goal to achieve Unity of Effort through coordination and communication following an incident for which an interagency response is required. 
  • FEMA National Incident Support Manual (Change 1) -- January 2013
    This manual defines the activities of Federal assistance—across the nation and within FEMA’s statutory authority—supporting citizens and first responders in responding to, recovering from, and mitigating all hazards. It includes definitions and descriptions of roles and responsibilities, functions, and organizational structures for those conducting FEMA incident support duties. This manual therefore forms the basis from which FEMA personnel plan and execute their assigned missions.
  • FEMA Incident Action Planning Guide (Revision 1) -- August 2015
    The IAP Guide is intended to promote the effectiveness of incident operations by standardizing the incident action planning process.  This document, based on the Incident management Handbook (IMH), explains the Incident Command System (ICS) incident action planning process, describes how to use it during FEMA incidents, defines the specific roles and responsibilities of the various participants, and establishes standards for incident action planning during FEMA incidents.
  • FEMA US&R Doctrine Bibliography  
    The purpose of this Doctrine Bibliography is to maintain a single document that serves as a central location to catalog the official name and publication dates of all current FEMA US&R Doctrine, Plans, Policies, and Procedures.  ​
  • FEMA National US&R System Definitions
    The comprehensive list of Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) definitions below is designed to be an online centralized location for all definitions and abbreviations used or referenced by the FEMA National Urban Search and Rescue System and government agencies involved with Emergency Support Function (ESF) #9.  
  • US&R 330 - US&R Field Operations Guide (Sept. 2003)
    The Field Operations Guide (FOG) has been prepared to guide Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel to perform Federal disaster response operations during major disasters or emergencies.
  • FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Learning Management System
    EMI serves as the national focal point for the development and delivery of emergency management training to enhance the capabilities of State, local, and Tribal government officials; volunteer organizations; FEMA’s disaster workforce; other Federal agencies; and the public and private sectors to minimize the impact of disasters and emergencies on the American public.
  • FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Website