What To Do When A Family Member Goes Missing


If your loved one is lost, call 911.


It can be extremely stressful when a family member who wanders goes missing. The following overviews help prepare caregivers and family members for questions being asked by an emergency dispatcher and/or law enforcement officers responding to this type of call.


What the 911 Operator will ask:

What address is the person missing from?

Street Address: _________________________________

What time was the person last seen?

Time: ________________

What is the name & age person missing?

Name: __________________________________

Age: ________________

What is the physical description of the person?

Height: _______________

Weight: _______________

Hair color: _____________

Eye color: _____________

Tattoos: ________________________________

Other: _________________________________

What was the person wearing when they went missing?

Shirt: _______________________

Pants: ______________________

Shoes: _____________________

Other: _____________________

Was the person on foot? _________________(yes/no)

Was the person in a vehicle when they went missing? ________________(yes/no)

Make: _______________________

Model: _______________________

Color: ________________________

License plate: __________________

In what direction did they go? ______________________

Where might they go? ______________________________________________

Do they have a phone or a tracking device on them? ____________(phone/device/no)

Does the person have any medical conditions? __________________________

If so, what are they? _________________________________________

Does the person take any medications? __________________(yes/no)

Are any of the medications time sensitive? _______________(yes/no)

* Based upon the answers to the questions above, the 911 Operator may ask additional questions.

What the responding officer will ask:

*The reporting officer may begin by asking questions to clarify your responses given to the 911 Operator when the person was first reported as missing.

Do you have a current photo of the missing person? _______________(keep current)

* If the person has a phone or tracking device, the officer would start the pinging or tracking process if the family member hasn’t already.

Are there triggers for the individual, both pros and cons? 

Phrases: _______________________________________________________

A person: ______________________________________________________

Law enforcement: _______________________________________________ 

Caretaker: _____________________________________________________

Males: ________________________________________________________

Females: ______________________________________________________

Ambulances: ___________________________________________________

Sirens: ________________________________________________________

Lights: ________________________________________________________

Loud Noise: ____________________________________________________

Is the person verbal or non-verbal (could be obtained during 911 call) and what is their cognitive level of communication? __________________________________________


Does the person have decision-making capacity? ____________________________

Independent/functioning or reliant? ___________________________________

If there is a known medical condition(s), are they on medications? ___________(yes/no)

Do they have the medications with them? _____________________________

Are the meds time sensitive? (example: Insulin) ________________________

Have they been drinking or using drugs? _____________________________________

Was the person upset, angry, or experiencing a medical crisis? ___________________

If yes, are they a risk to harm themselves or others? ______________

Are they violent? _______________________________________________________

Do they have outbursts? __________________________________________

If yes, are they physical or verbal? __________________________________

What are familiar routes or places they may go? 

(Provide names, addresses, and phone numbers)






What are past places they have lived and they might try to go; do they have family or friends in the area? _____________________________________________________




Also areas to consider when determining sense of urgency

Environmental elements:

Weather conditions can have a great impact when searching for a person who has wandered, Some examples are if the weather is freezing cold or extremely hot; or if it is day or night.

The area surrounding the person who wandered will also have an impact on the urgency. If there is water nearby such as an irrigation ditch, stream, or river nearby.  Or if there are roadways or railways in the area, that may impact the urgency of the search.