The National Search and Rescue Council

National Search and Rescue Manual


This is the latest edition of the National Search and Rescue Manual published by AMSA on behalf of the Australian National Search and Rescue Council (December 2013 Edition).

The NATSAR Manual documents standardised techniques and procedures, which enables SAR authorities to cooperate and coordinate to best effect. By establishing and standardising procedures, the manual seeks to promote effective saving of lives.

The NATSAR Manual in its entirety can be found here : National Search and Rescue Manual PDF Icon




© The National Search and Rescue Manual is copyright. The reproduction of this work in whole or in part is invited for search and rescue purposes other than commercial purposes provided due acknowledgment is given to the Australian National Search and Rescue Council.



The NATSAR Manual is reviewed and updated through an annual amendments program.  Amendments are proposed throughout the year and decisions are made by Council members at the annual NATSAR Council meeting. 

An amendment sheet is included at the beginning of the Manual to show which updates have been made since the previous version.  If you are maintaining a printed version of the Manual, you might find it worthwhile to have a look at the amendment sheets as some amendments to Chapters or Appendices might be small enough to only require a manuscript amendment, thereby saving some printing.

From January 2014, the amendment schedules will be provided on this website to maintain a view of historical changes.


The National SAR Council and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority are unable to provide hard copies of the National Search and Rescue Manual. To print the manual in its entirety, simply open the PDF link above and print from the toolbar.


Accessing the National SAR Manual by Sections

For ease of reference, the quick links below will take you to the relevant section of the Manual.  The date of the most recent amendment is shown.




Amendment Schedule   [Dec 13]
Foreword   [Dec 13]
Introduction   [Dec 13]
Defence Letter of Promulgation   [Dec 13]
Table of Contents   [Dec 13]
Abbreviations and Acronyms   [Dec 13]
Glossary   [Dec 13]
Chapter 1 Search and Rescue in Australia [Dec 13]
Chapter 2 Communications [Dec 13]
Chapter 3 Awareness and Initial Action [Dec 13]
Chapter 4 Search Planning and Evaluation [Dec 13]
Chapter 5 Search Techniques and Operations [Dec 13]
Chapter 6 Rescue Planning and Operations [Dec 13]
Chapter 7 Conclusion of SAR Operations [Dec 13]
Chapter 8 Training and Exercises [Dec 13]
Chapter 9 Other Emergency Assistance and Services
[Dec 13]




Appendix A Australian Search and Rescue Region (SRR) [Dec 13]
Appendix B National Search and Rescue Responsibilities and Functions [Dec 13]
Appendix C Inter-Governmental Agreement on National SAR Response Arrangements [Dec 13]
Appendix D Transfer of Overall Coordination or Request for JRCC Australia Assistance [Dec 13]
Appendix E Distress and Emergency Signals [Dec 13]
Appendix F Maritime SAR Recognition Code (MAREC) [Dec 13]
Appendix G Plotting Symbols [Dec 13]
Appendix H Sighting and Hearing (SHR) Techniques [Dec 13]
Appendix I Tables and Graphs [Dec 13]
Appendix J Probable Errors of Position [Dec 13]
Appendix K Worksheets [Dec 13]
Appendix L Aircraft Accident Site Precautions [Dec 13]
Appendix M Civil Aircraft Search and Rescue Units (SRUs) [Dec 13]
Appendix N RAAF SAR Equipment and Aircraft Capabilities [Dec 13]
Appendix O Royal Australian Navy Response [Dec 13]





19 December 2013