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Here are some resources and helpful tips so you may get started with Cyber Scent Work, Inc.

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Rick Container Paired Odor Element Title

Interior Searches: General Requirements

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As noted in the Rules and Regulations, Cyber Scent Work has the following requirements for interior search areas:

  • Search area should have a minimum of 4 walls and a roof.

  • Space must be free of any safety hazards (e.g. broken glass, garbage, sharp objects, exposed wires, etc.).

Size of the search area will depend upon the level of competition:

  • Beginner: 100-200 sq ft

  • Novice: 100-300 sq ft

  • Intermediate: 100-500 sq ft

  • Advanced: 100-800 sq ft

  • Master: 100-1000 sq ft

  • Expert: 100-1500 sq ft

Exterior Searches: General Requirements

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As noted in the Rules and Regulations, Cyber Scent Work has the following requirements for exterior search areas:

  • Search area must be outside.

  • Search area should have a maximum of 2 solid walls.

  • Space may have a roof or overhang, such as a shelter in a park or overhang for a porch.

  • Space must be free of any safety hazards (e.g. broken glass, garbage, sharp objects, poison traps, sudden drop-offs, etc.).

Size of the search area will depend upon the level of competition:

  • Beginner: 10-300 sq ft

  • Novice: 100-500 sq ft

  • Intermediate: 100-800 sq ft

  • Advanced: 100-1000 sq ft

  • Master: 100-1500 sq ft

  • Expert: 100-2000 sq ft

Vehicle Searches: General Requirements

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As noted in the Rules and Regulations, Cyber Scent Work has the following requirements for vehicle searches:

  • Search may be done in an inside or outside area.

  • Hides may only be placed a maximum of 3’ off the ground on the OUTSIDE of the vehicle.

  • NO hides may be placed inside  the vehicle, including but not limited to, the glove compartment, in  between the seats nor may hides be placed in the undercarriage of the  vehicle.

  • Number of vehicles used will depend on level (span of 2-10 vehicles per search).

"Vehicles" are items used for transportation such as:

  • cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, boats, tractors, motorcycles, bicycles, wheelbarrows, riding lawn mowers, planes, etc.

Container Searches: General Requirements

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As noted in the Rules and Regulations, Cyber Scent Work has the following requirements for container searches:

  • Search areas may be inside or outside.

  • Containers must be a minimum of 24” apart from one another and any rows must be a minimum of 36” apart.

  • Odor hides must be placed within an odor vessel (e.g. plastic tube or straw) and placed close to a seam of said container to allow odor to escape.

  • If elevated (on top of something, such as a chair seat or attached to a wall or lattice or suspended), containers may not be any higher than 2’ off the ground.

Containers are considered any item used to hold other items such as:

  • boxes, toolboxes, lunch boxes, totes, buckets, bins, luggage, etc.

Interior Searches: Specific Considerations

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For food and paired odor searches,  all hides must be accessible to the dog so they may self-reward. This means NO inaccessible hides and any hides elevated above the dog’s head MUST have a way for the dog to reach the hide itself (e.g. a hide placed on a bookshelf, the dog can climb on top of the couch next to the bookshelf to reach the hide).


For odor searches, ensure odor can escape the odor vessel (e.g. use metal tins with holes on top as opposed to solid tins with no holes) and think about where the odor will travel. Ask yourself, “Can the dog follow the odor trail back to source?”.


For levels where inaccessible hides are permitted (and you are NOT using food or paired odor hides), ensure the odor vessel is placed toward the seam or opening to allow as much odor to escape as possible (e.g. if placing a hide inside a closet closet, place the hide near the door hinge).


Practice is the key to success, so handlers and  assistants are urged to have previously designed and run searches  playing with various elements and factors typical of interior searches.


These include, but are not limited to, slick flooring where odor will  skid across, rugs and similar flooring where odor will collect and pool, variances with HVAC (heating on/off, A/C on/off, fans on/off, windows open/closed, etc.) and so on.

Exterior Searches: Specific Considerations

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For food and paired odor searches,  all hides must be accessible to the dog so they may self-reward. This  means NO inaccessible hides and any hides elevated above the dog’s head MUST have a way for the dog to reach the hide itself (e.g. a hide  placed high on a pillar at a park, the dog can climb on top of the  nearby picnic table next to the pillar to reach the hide).


For odor searches, ensure odor can escape the odor vessel (e.g. use metal tins with holes on top as opposed to solid tins with no holes) and think about where the odor will travel. Ask yourself, “Can the dog follow the odor trail back to source?”.

It is crucially important to think about the wind, where the odor will be going and whether the dog will have access to  that odor trail (e.g. placing a hide on a fence but having the odor travel to the opposite site where the dog cannot access it).


For levels where inaccessible hides are permitted (and you are NOT using food or paired odor hides), ensure the odor vessel is placed toward the seam or opening to allow as much odor to escape as possible.


Practice is the key to success, so handlers and  assistants are urged to have previously designed and run searches  playing with various elements and factors typical of exterior searches.


These include, but are not limited to, vegetation and standing water,  sunny areas v. shadowy areas, weather conditions (dry, humid, cold, warm, raining, snowing, windy v. still day, etc.) and time of day.

Vehicle Searches: Specific Considerations

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Only vehicles the handler and assistant have explicit permission to use may be used in searches filmed for Cyber Scent Work.


For food and paired odor searches, all hides must be accessible to the dog so they may self-reward. This means NO inaccessible hides.


For odor searches, ensure odor can escape the odor vessel (e.g. use metal tins with holes on top as opposed to solid tins with no holes).


Note that the surface of many vehicles can become  extremely hot when sitting in the direct sunlight for even a short period of time. This could potentially burn a dog’s nose as they are  sourcing a hide. Handlers and assistants should be mindful of this when they are designing their searches.


All steps must be taken to avoid any damage to the vehicles.

We should NOT promote dogs  jumping up on vehicles if at all possible, so handlers and assistants  should be mindful of where they place their hides.


Practice is the key to success, so handlers and  assistants are urged to have previously designed and run searches  playing with various elements and factors typical of vehicle searches. 


These include, but are not limited to, orientation of the vehicles to  one another, size of vehicles in relation to one another, wind direction  and so on.

Container Searches: Specific Considerations

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For food and paired odor searches, all containers must be open to allow the dog to self-reward.


All odor containers should be "aged"  for 15-20 minutes before running the dog. This means placing the odor  vessel inside the container and closing it to allow the container to fill with the odor.


For odor searches, place the odor vessel near the seam of the container to allow the dog to properly source the hide.

Use care when using insulated lunch bags as they can prevent odor to properly escape.


For containers such as buckets, flower pots, baskets, etc., fill them with crinkle paper or crumpled up newspaper.


For containers such as tote bags, fill them with crumpled newspaper instead of having them completely flat.

Interior Searches: Search Options

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While  handlers and assistants are urged to be creative with the orientation  of their containers, Cyber Scent Work does outline orientation options  for each level of competition.


These may include the following:

  • straight row of containers

  • two straight rows of containers

  • three straight rows of containers

  • two staggered rows of containers

  • three staggered rows of containers

  • scattered containers

  • clusters of containers

  • creating shapes with the containers (circle, square, U, Z, S, etc.)

  • elevated containers (affixed to a wall or lattice)

NOTE: The total number of containers  to be used within each search area is outlined within the Rules and  Regulations and is level-dependent.

Exterior Searches: Search Options

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Handlers  and assistants are urged to be creative with the location and  composition of their exterior search. The overall size of the search  area is set by the level (please refer to the Rules and Regulations).


Some potential hide placements you may choose for your exterior search include, but are not limited to:

  • Hide placed near the threshold of the search area.

  • Hides placed around the perimeter of an area.

  • Hides placed in the center of an area.

  • Hides placed on landmarks or objects.

  • Hides placed on trees or bushes.

  • Hides placed underneath rocks.

  • Hides placed on walls.

  • Hides placed on fences.

  • Hides placed in exterior corners of buildings.

  • Hides placed underneath exterior doors or in door jams.

  • Hides placed near exterior windows or window sills.

Vehicle Searches: Search Options

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While  handlers and assistants are urged to be creative with the type of vehicles they use in their searches, Cyber Scent Work does outline  orientation options for each level of competition.


Some options may include:

  • Straight row of vehicles.

  • Staggered row of vehicles.

  • Circle of vehicles.

  • Square of vehicles.

  • Triangle of vehicles.

  • Vehicles perpendicular to one another.

  • Vehicles side-by-side to one another.

Container Searches: Search Options

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While  handlers and assistants are urged to be creative with the orientation  of their containers, Cyber Scent Work does outline orientation options  for each level of competition.


These may include the following:

  • straight row of containers

  • two straight rows of containers

  • three straight rows of containers

  • two staggered rows of containers

  • three staggered rows of containers

  • scattered containers

  • clusters of containers

  • creating shapes with the containers (circle, square, U, Z, S, etc.)

  • elevated containers (affixed to a wall or lattice)

NOTE: The total number of containers  to be used within each search area is outlined within the Rules and Regulations and is level-dependent.

Setting hides

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In  formal Scent Work trials, highly experienced and talented trial  officials will set the hides. Ensuring hides can indeed be found and are  level-appropriate is an art! There are countless factors that may affect the odor picture, including but not limited to, weather, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, airflow and the presence or  absence of objects in the environment.


Since the goal of Cyber Scent Work is to promote as  many dogs and handlers become involved in Scent Work as possible, we do NOT have a requirement that approved officials set the hides.


We do, however, recommend that handlers and assistants learn as much as they can about odor theory.


Here are some recommended resources:

Tools for designing your search

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Other helpful tools include a smoke pencil or dry ice, which can help one  better visualize what odor may do within a given space. The Wind Tunnel  Free app is another wonderful tool designed to provide a representation  of what airflow may do within a given space.


You may also be interested in the Tools to Help Design Your Scent Work Searches Webinar offered through Scent Work University.

Importance of practicing

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The biggest piece of advice is to practice setting hides and running the dog on them before submitting any entries to Cyber Scent Work. Practicing in this way will allow handlers and assistants to have a much better idea of what odor may do within a given environment.

Advice when using food or paired odor hides

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It  is essential when using food and paired odor hides that the dog is able  to reach the hide itself to self-reward. This means NO inaccessible  hides (e.g. hides within closed drawers or closets) or elevated hides that are above the dog’s head that lack a way for the dog to safely reach them.


Here are some tips for food and paired odor hides:


For food hides, we recommend balancing the treat/food  on top of an empty metal tin or similar odor vessel that has never come  into contact with odor.


For paired hides, ensure any scented cotton swabs are  placed inside the odor vessel and the treat is balanced on top of the  outside of the odor vessel.


Depending on where you place your hide, it may be easier to use stickier treats (e.g. liverwurst, peanut butter, etc.).


Even though these hides must be accessible, they can still be placed so they are not easily seen by the handler (e.g. the  underside of a chair).

Removeable v. environmental hides

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Whenever  possible, placing a hide on a removable object is preferrable. This will keep the potential odor contamination in the space to a minimum.


This does NOT mean that all search  areas need to be staged or filled with objects that are out-of-place. Rather, handlers and assistants are urged to be creative in how they  design their search areas.


Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Fake deadbolt with the odor vessel within it attached to the doorframe via a magnet.

  • Fake rock that has the odor vessel within it.

  • Extra weather stripping with the odor vessel within it and then placed over existing weather stripping.

If placing an environmental hide (e.g. on a tree trunk, on a wall, on a piece of furniture, etc.), be careful about the odor vessel you choose (ideally the handler will not be able to see it as they are working the dog),  ensure odor can indeed escape so the dog can source it and clean the  area once the search is finished with an alcohol wipe or Dawn soap and  water.


Here are some considerations when placing an environmental hide:

  • Are there any safety concerns?

  • Where will the odor be potentially going?

  • Will the dog still be able to source it?

  • If placing a hide on a fence, where is the wind taking the odor? Is the dog blocked from getting to the odor itself?

  • Where is the sun and shade and how will this  affect the odor (will the odor rise and spread or fall and stay close to  the hide itself)?

Choosing a search area

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The  goal of Cyber Scent Work is to promote as many dogs as possible to  participate in the game of Scent Work as possible. This may include dogs  who have significant environmental sensitivities. 


As such, it is the  responsibility of the handlers to choose search areas where their dogs  will be safe and able to rise to the challenges of the search.


Safety is of paramount importance, so if a handler  determines it would be safer for a dog to only search in familiar  locations (at home, at a friend’s house, at a dog training facility), they may do so.


This includes the upper levels of Cyber Scent Work  where the requirements list “ideally, search a novel location”. Safety  always comes first.


RULES TO FOLLOW


When choosing a search area, handlers must follow these rules:

  • Dogs must be permitted on the grounds.

  • If a business, written or verbal permission must be obtained prior to filming the searches.

  • All steps must be taken to ensure the safety of  the dog, the handler, the assistant, any volunteers and public at-large (human and canine alike). Includes but not limited to scoping the area out ahead of time and passing on a location if loose dogs are commonplace.

General guidelines for searching in public

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When setting up a search area to be run and filmed for Cyber Scent Work, there are some general rules to keep in mind:


The boundaries of the search area should be visibly marked with surveyor flags and/or painters tape.


The entirety of the search area, including where the  hides are located, must be included in the video submitted to Cyber  Scent Work to review.

  • All search areas must be left better than how handlers found them.

  • All brought in objects removed.

  • Dog is cleaned up after.

  • Any garbage in the area is cleaned up and removed.

  • All hides are counted, accounted for and retrieved.

  • Any hide locations are wiped down with alcohol wipes or Dawn soap and water after the searches are done.

Running the search

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The  goal of Cyber Scent Work is to provide a bridge between training and  trialing. To that end, handlers are expected to run the searches as  honestly as possible to get the most out of the feedback from Reviewing Officials. 


Cyber Scent Work assumes all submitted entries were filmed  following the required Rules and Regulations. This includes following  the required odor concentration, hide preparation, hide visibility to  the handler and the handler’s awareness of hide placement prior to  running the search.

Calling Alert and Finish

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Handlers  must be certain to all “ALERT” and “FINISH” as loud and proud  as they can to not only be heard by the assistant, but to be picked up  on the video as well. This is especially important when running in outdoor spaces where there may be wind or vehicle traffic noise.

Officiating the search

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In  all levels, the assistant who sets the hides should also be the one who repsonds with a “YES” or “NO” when the handler calls “ALERT”. Assistants must determine what will constitute as a “YES” call and what will constitute  as a “NO” call for each individual hide.


Once again, in formal Scent Work trials, these calls are made by experienced and talented officials who have extensive  expertise reading environments, understanding what odor may be doing in any given moment and so on. These “correct call areas” may even be  determined by an agreement between the hide setting official and the  official making the “YES” or “NO” calls, depending on the trialing  organization.


Since Cyber Scent Work is not requiring certified or  approved officials to set the hides or officiate the runs, we urge assistants to lean more toward saying “YES” than “NO”.


Some examples may include:

  • Hide is set on the upper spoke of a vehicle  hubcap. Dog sniffs the center of the hubcap and shows a change of  behavior. Handler calls “ALERT”. Should be a “YES” call.

  • Hide is set on the underside of a chair toward  the front of the seat. Dog hits on the chair from the side but is  clearly sniffing the underside of the seat. Handler calls “ALERT”.  Should be a “YES” call.

  • Hide is set inside a closed storage shed for an exterior search as an inaccessible hide. Hide is placed near the hinge,  but the dog hits on the bottom corner of the door below the hinge.  Should be a “YES” call.

When to call "Where?"

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Should a handler call "ALERT" and the assistant is unclear where exactly this is, the assistant should respond with "WHERE?" to get more information from the handler. Once the handler indicates exactly where they are calling "ALERT", typically by pointing, the assistant should then respond with either "YES" or "NO". 


Here is an example of when this can happen:

  • Dog shows interest in a chair where the hide is located but the handler does not call "ALERT". Dog moves off and starts sniffing a completely different chair. Handler is still looking at the correct chair and then calls "ALERT". It is unclear where they are calling "ALERT", the chair the handler is looking at or the chair the dog is now investigating. Therefore, the assistant should respond with "WHERE?".

Importance of prompt assistant responses

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Here is a video showing how odor vessels should be loaded.


Target novel odors require special attention and  handling to ensure we are not inadvertently contaminating the search  area. Contamination in the search area can cause the dog to alert elsewhere, we do NOT want this to happen!


As such, we strongly recommend all handlers and assistants follow these tips when storing and handling their odor:

  • Store all target odors in air-tight cases away  from any clean odor vessels, containers, adhesives (earthquake putty,  GlueDots, etc.) or other supplies you may use within your searches  (surveyor flags, start line tape, staging supplies, clean objects,  etc.).

  • Once an object has had a hide on or inside of it, it is now and forever considered an odor item! These odor items  should be stored together and away from anything that is considered  clean.

  • Wear plastic gloves whenever handling odor (loading, placing or removing your hides) and use tweezers to load any odor vessels.

  • NO NAKED SCENTED COTTON SWABS! All scented  cotton swabs MUST be contained within some sort of odor vessel (e.g.  metal tins, straws, tubes, etc.).

If you are interested in learning more about preparing  or storing odor, check out the Prepping and Storing Odor Webinar offered through Scent Work University.

Recommended odor vendors

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We recommend the following reputable vendors:

Odor preparation

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BEGINNER - INTERMEDIATE LEVELS

For the Beginner-Intermediate levels, hides are expected to be prepared following the “24-hour” cooking method.


Here is a video demonstrating how to prepare your odor.


You will need the following:

  • one large canning jar

  • two smaller canning jars

  • Minimum of 50 cotton swabs (with the paper straws) cut in half

Here are the steps for using this odor preparation method:

  1. The large canning jar is for holding your odor  oil vial and dropper (which should be stored OUTSIDE the odor vial  itself, since the essential oils are corrosive).

  2. Fill one of the smaller canning jars with the cotton swab halves.

  3. Draw up some oil in the dropper and place 3-5 drops on the inner wall of the smaller canning jar with the cut cotton swabs.

  4. Return any unused oil back into the oil vial,  close it, place the dropper OUTSIDE the vial and return the vial and  dropper to the large canning jar.

  5. Close the smaller canning jar and shake it for several minutes.

  6. Allow this to sit and “cook” for 24-hours. NO formal cooking is necessary. We are simply allowing the odor vapors to  permeate all the cotton swabs.

  7. In 24-hours, you may insert 3-5 scented cotton  swabs into an odor vessel (e.g. metal tin, straw, tube, etc.) to place  within the search area.

  8. After a search is done, these scented cotton  swabs may be removed from the odor vessel and placed into the second  smaller canning jar. These scented cotton swabs may be reused for a few  months in your practice sessions.

ADVANCED - EXPERT LEVELS

For the Advanced-Expert levels, hides are expected to  be prepared by placing 2-drops of oil directly onto a single cotton swab  (with the paper straws) and only 1 scented cotton swab may be placed  into an odor vessel (e.g. metal tin, straw, tube, etc.).


Once a search is done, scented cotton swabs should be  removed from the odor vessel and stored inside a small canning jar. These may be reused for a few months in your practice sessions.

Loading odor vessels

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Here is a video showing how odor vessels should be loaded.


Target novel odors require special attention and  handling to ensure we are not inadvertently contaminating the search  area. Doing so can cause the dog to alert on the odor contamination!


As such, we strongly recommend all handlers and assistants follow these tips when storing and handling their odor:

  • Store all target odors in air-tight cases away  from any clean odor vessels, containers, adhesives (earthquake putty,  GlueDots, etc.) or other supplies you may use within your searches (surveyor flags, start line tape, staging supplies, clean objects,  etc.).

  • Once an object has had a hide on or inside of  it, it is now and forever considered an odor item! These odor items  should be stored together and away from anything that is considered  clean.

  • Wear plastic gloves whenever handling odor (loading, placing or removing your hides) and use tweezers to load any odor vessels.

  • NO NAKED SCENTED COTTON SWABS! All scented  cotton swabs MUST be contained within some sort of odor vessel (e.g.  metal tins, straws, tubes, etc.).

If you are interested in learning more about preparing  or storing odor, check out the Prepping and Storing Odor Webinar offered through Scent Work University.

Filming the search

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Here is a short list of what you will need to film your search:

  • smartphone or video camera

  • tripod or something to prop the camera up (recommended)

  • light (if filming indoors, choose areas with lots of natural light and where you can also turn lights on)

  • 2 cones to denote the start line

  • surveyor flags or tape to denote the search area boundaries

Here are some tips for success for filming your search:

  • Hold your smartphone sideways to take a  landscape video. This will allow the Review Official to get a better  view of what is going on.

  • Try to position your camera so the sun or brightest light source is behind the camera.

  • Ensure there is enough light. When working indoors, open the shades and turn the lights on so it is as bright as possible.

  • Ensure the Review Official will be able to see  the entirety of the search area and the hides as well as the dog and  handler team who is working.

  • There is no need to zoom in while a team is working; the camera should be positioned in such a way that this is not necessary.

  • The Review Official will need to hear the  handler call out “ALERT” and “FINISH”, so make certain the  handler knows to speak up, especially when working in exterior searches  on windy days!

  • Vehicle searches can be challenging to video. Having someone hold onto the camera is best so they can try to  reposition if necessary to see the dog and handler team working. As long as the Review Official can see where the hides are in the video, you  are good.

  • Most importantly, don’t let the videoing piece be a stress point. You’ve got this!

What to include in the video

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An overview of the search area before the team runs indicating:

  • The level, element and track and total number of  hides within the search, including the number of noted and blind hides  (e.g., Master, Interior, Food Track searches. Interior A with 3 total  blind hides, Interior B with 2 total blind hides and Interior C is  blank).

  • where the hides are (this can be done by standing back and pointing or walking up and indicating exactly where the hides are.)

  • where the start line and search area boundaries are.

Show the entirety of the search, which includes:

  • team approaching the start line

  • team searching

  • handler calling "FINISH"

NOTE: For consecutive searches, be sure to include all the individual searches for both the overview of the  search area, showing the relationship of the search areas to one  another and the team searching in each.

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