Heat Transfer and Layering

By Colton Beckwith, an RPC Student.

In this essay I will be discussing heat transfer and layering in clothing, particularly as it relates to SAR operations.


I will begin by discussing the pros and cons of various clothing materials.

Cotton’s pros include its breathability and its cool-keeping elements. It is also water resistant if woven tightly. Additionally, cotton is flammable, making it a good fire starting material, but this can be a bad thing for firefighters trying to put out a blaze. In the way of cons, in SAR “Cotton kills” is a common saying, as cotton dries slowly, which can cause the body temperature to plummet if the cotton becomes wet. Also cotton tears easily.

Wool fabrics come from sheep and are well insulated. The oils in wool help repel water. One con of wool fabrics is that if it becomes wet it has an unpleasant odor.

Finally, there are synthetic materials such as Polypropylene. These are man-made materials which give you the comfort and warmth of natural materials. Synthetics are tear resistant and are water resistant, making it a good insulator. However, synthetics can shrink and melt.

Heat Transfer

I will now discuss heat transfer.

Dead air space is the air trapped between two materials. This allows for air pockets to form, which are important when trying to keep warm. Also, moving air passing through fibers will aid heat transfer from your body. Lastly, there are jackets called vents that allow heat to escape without having to remove the jacket.


Lastly, I will discuss the five main layers. Layering is important to keep your body temperature under control. Here are the different types of layers:

Starting on the innermost layer, the underneath layer is the layer closest to the skin. It is important that this layer is non-cotton, as it will get wet in rainy weather or when perspiring. This layer is meant to wick away moisture to keep you comfortable.

Second is the wicking layer. Part of this layer may be in contact with the skin as well. Synthetics like polyester work well for this layer. It can be used for several purposes, such as a wicking material, or to keep moisture off of your skin. This depends on the material.l

Next is the clothing layer. This is most likely a normal outfit, such as pants and a shirt. This layer should allow moisture to escape. Also, it should not be tight, as the first two layers should.

Fourth is the insulation layer, which is necessary when working in cold environments. This could be a fleece or sweater. This layer is meant to trap in heat.

Finally, the shell layer is the outermost layer. This layer protects you from wet weather, sun, and wind. This could be a synthetic parka or a jacket.

Please leave your feedback here or in the comments. – ColtonBeckwith RPC

The Incident Command System

An RPC 8th Grade Applied Science Essay by Colton Beckwith

In this essay I will be discussing the Incident Command System.

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized system used by the federal government in order to be able to respond to “all risks” effectively. It originated from a Southern California firefighting task force called Firefighting Resources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies (FIRESCOPE) in the 1970s.

In charge of the ICS is the Incident Commander (IC). Directly under him are three officers: The Public Information Officer provides official information regarding the disaster to other organizations. The Safety Officer keeps track of all safety conditions in the operation. They make sure that protocols are put into place to protect the SAR Personnel. Finally, the Liaison Officer is the main point of contact between the IC and other agencies. They deal with representatives from other organizations who come to a disaster area.

Within the ICS there are four sections: The Operations Section, the Planning Section, the Logistics Section, and the Financial/Admin Section. Each of these sections branch in to even smaller branches and units.

The ICS is based on five management concepts, which are:

  1. Unity of Command. This is the concept of having a recognizable chain of command. It prevents resources and time being wasted.
  2. Common Terminology. This is especially important when SAR Organizations are coming from across the country or from other countries. Because some words mean different things to different people, it is crucial for SAR personnel to have standard terminology.
  3. Management by Objective. In the ICS everyone must work according to the specific objectives laid out in the plan. These are worked toward within a certain time frame.
  4. Flexible and Modular Organization. This means that the operation must be able to expand or diminish without disrupting the mission. As the Search and Rescue operation nears its end, the number of people on the task forces is able to gradually decrease.
  5. Span of Control. This is the concept that, if one person on a task force has too many responsibilities, it will be almost impossible for this person to do their jobs well. Thus, this concept states that no one will manage more than seven people.

Thank you for reading!


Government and Military SAR organizations

Science- Search and Rescue Lesson 4 Essay by Colton J Beckwith

This essay will be discussing several Government and Military SAR organizations, their responsibilities, and what makes them unique.

FEMA Search and Rescue

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is the leading Urban Search and Rescue organization. They are used in a wide variety of disasters, including earthquakes, terrorist attacks, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. Urban Search and Rescue requires locating, rescuing, and initial medical stabilization of the subjects. People are most commonly trapped when a structure collapse occurs; however, transportation accidents and collapsed trenches are just a few of the other common causes for individuals being trapped, according to fema.gov.

Urban Search and Rescue members must have a basic Emergency Medical Technician training (EMT-B) certification. FEMA is always at the scene of the disaster within 24 hours. They are only called in by state authorities if regional disasters are too great for local SAR resources. When called upon by a state, FEMA sends their three nearest task forces to the scene. Each USAR Task Force has 70 members. During a disaster, each task force is divided into two groups of 35 members. The two groups each work for 12 hours at a time, switching off with the other group at the end of their shift.

Air Force Rescue Coordination Center

The Air Force is responsible for coordinating on-land SAR activities for the 48 contiguous United States, as well as for Mexico and Canada. The AFRCC, located in Langley, Virginia, operates 24/7, and directly ties in to the Federal Aviation Administration’s alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center.

U.S. Air Force. Pararescue

The USAF Pararescue is an elite combat force that is the used to execute the most perilous and extreme rescue missions. They are the most highly trained personnel recovery specialists in the world.

An RPC 8th Grade Science SAR Essay by Colton J Beckwith. Please leave your feedback in the comments or on the 8th Grade Science forum.