Search and Rescue
ICS Form Helper

Because nobody likes doing paperwork

About The SAR ICS Helper

The inspiration for this app came while I was working as the Plans Chief on a larger task. The command team was burning the midnight oil getting team assignments ready for the next operational period of the search. It was several days in, and the search was ramping up to include over 100 searchers and convergent, and about two dozen assignments. I was struck with the amount of repetition while filling out the various forms. Task number, task name, and even the text of the team assignments were repeating to a great degree. Perhaps if my background was in English literature, I’d have found more creative and varied ways to say “Do a visual sweep of the area on the map”, but instead I’m a programmer so I made this app to speed things along.

We ultimately found the subject after 5 days, and after I'd gotten a little sleep I began work on this app. It has since been used during a number of large scale responses in the province, and I continue to add new features. Anything is better than doing all that paperwork by hand!

-- Dylan Baker, Manager with Campbell River SAR

Preset Values

The app comes with a number of pre-made team assignment descriptions and safety plans. With just a few clicks you can add the preset text, modify it as needed, and output it into familiar ICS forms to print, save, etc.

You can also add additional presets as you find the need.

Reflex Tasking & Lost Person Behaviour

Gradually, reflex tasks for all lost person categories are being added to the app. After selecting a profile you will get a list of appropriate reflex tasks. You can quickly order as many of each as needed and automatically generate the assignment forms.

Only Type It Once

Whenever possible, the app takes information from one place and uses it elsewhere. If you enter subject information into the SMEAC briefing, it will automaticaly populate the subject profile. If you create team assignments, it will automatically make the Ops plan, etc.

Save it for Later

Everything you enter can be saved in a (technically) human readable XML file. You can back it up, move it to another computer, or easily email it. Users of the app can reprint various forms from that data file.

Complete Package

At your option you can include 2 copies of Page 1 of the team assignment, a subject profile, a PDF map file, and the "S__AC" portion of the briefing with each team assignment. This allows you to quickly create a "package" for team leaders, including a portion of their briefing with blank spaces for Mission and Execution.

List of forms generated by the app

  • ICS 202 Incident Objectives
  • ICS 204 Team Assignment
  • ICS 205 Communications Plan
  • ICS 206 Medical Plan
  • ICS 207 Organization Chart
  • ICS 215 Operations Plan
  • ICS 301 Subject Profile
  • ICS 305 Safety Plan
  • *A full SMEAC-format briefing

Download the SAR ICS Form Helper

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Download v3.8

This app is availabel free of charge for SAR members in Canada (or anywhere really). It is currently only available on Windows, and requires Adobe Reader or another PDF reader to function as intended.

If you would like to be notified automatically when new versions of the app are available, please leave your email address here. Your address will not be spammed, sold or otherwise used or abused. An email is not required for the download, just for future notifications.

Updates

Version
Date Published
Changes
3.8
2019-Oct-15
-estimate assignment duration or POD given area and range of detection for assignments.
-updated Medical Plan entry form. Also added the ability to select a RIT from the list of teams created, and have it auto-populated on the form.
-improved file handling.
-minor bug fixes.
3.7
2019-Oct-07
Updated the user interface design
added medical plans, comms plans, and org chart
added urgency calculation
Program will now automatically download reflex tasks, premade assignments, etc. when first installed
added the ability to include a PDF map, to be printed with team assignments
added the ability to import GPX data and include coordinates in the team assignment sheet
added Print IAP button to consolodate the entire IAP in a single PDF
Updated date format to spell out the name of months (e.g. "Oct" instead of "10")
Add team members to the team assignment form within the app
3.1
2019-Aug-25
Corrected a minor bug with printing team assignments, updated installer so uninstalling the previous version should no longer be required.
3.0
2019-Aug-24
Added Incident Objectives, Briefing Templates, and automatic subject profiles with team assignments

Getting Started

Installation

  1. First, download the installation program found above.
  2. Once it has downloaded, unzip the contents to a location, such as your desktop or download folder
  3. Run "Setup.exe" and proceed through the various screens. **You may be prompted about installing an application from an "unknown publisher". There is (of course) a cost to becoming a "known publisher", and in order to keep the app free I have forgone that cost. Take my assurance for what it is worth that the app is genuine and contains no malicious code.
  4. When the installation is complete, you should see a shortcut on your desktop, and another in your start menu for "SAR ICS Form Helper". Double click on the shortcut to run the app.
  5. After your first installation, it is suggested you check for updates to the various preset assignments and reflex tasks. To do this, go to "Updates" > "Check for Data Updates" in the app.

Updating

To update the data files within the app, click on "Updates" and "Check For Data Updates" in the menu at the top of the app. This will allow you to download any new preset assignment descriptions, reflex tasks, safety plans or incident objects which have been created recently. When updating, the system will NOT remove or change any of your existing information, it will simply add additional items as appropriate.

To update the app itself, click on "Updates" and "Check for App Updates" in the menu at the top of the app. If there is a newer version of the app available, you'll be directed to this website to download it. On some systems, you may need to uninstall the current version before installing the new one. Note that if you do, you will NOT lose any data, it is saved elsewhere and will be unaffected. Simply follow the instructions for Installation above.

Customizing

You can add your own preset team assignment descriptions, safety plans, incident objectives or reflex tasks within the app. Once you do, they'll be available for you on this computer in the future. To add new items, click on "Edit" on the menu at the top of the main screen of the app, and select the appropriate option.

There are also a few general options such as your common radio frequencies, and some print options. Once set, these will carry over from task to task on this computer.

Printing

Whenever you select the option to print something from the app, it will automatically generate a PDF document and open it on your computer using the default program. As noted above, you will need Adobe Reader or another program to view and print PDF documents.

By default, the app saves copies of these PDFs in your "Documents" folder under "SAR ICS Form Helper", with a sub-folder for each task.

In some cases, anti-randsomware security programs will prevent the app from saving to your Documents folder. In this case, it should prompt you to select another save location. If you persistently encouter problems with the PDF not opening check your antivirus program and make an exception for the app.

Feedback / Feature Requests

If you have feedback on the app, wish to report a bug, or have a suggestion for a feature please Contact Us. Do understand this app is created and maintained as a service to BC SAR groups at no cost, so maintain expectations of timely responses and quick updates accordingly!


Disclaimer

This software is provided as-is with no guarantees of performance or efficacy, please use at your own risk. It is highly recommended you be prepared with a backup option should the app not function as expected during a task.