Esri has been hard at work supporting a blossoming SAR-GIS user community over the past three years. Right now there a core group of Users called 'MapSAR' we are supporting as they put together ArcGIS Desktop templates, best practices material, and training sessions to support a variety of SAR-GIS functions. The MapSAR template has the following customized capabilities and will add more features over time:
1. Map production templates (Data driven pages and map templates)
2. Custom GPS data download tools (GPX file importer)
3. An Operational Layer geodatabase (Joined and related tables) with symbology
4. Search area buffer tool (Buffer Analysis)
Of course, since SAR is inherently spatial, there are numerous spatial analyses (cross-country mobility modeling, network analysis, helicopter landing models, probability) thatour Users and Esri are working towards. For more information please see our blog post if you have not already and stay tuned-in to the Esri Public Safety Resource Center in 2012.
Thanks for posting!
Public Safety Technology Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org | USNG 11SMT8196368376
Check out the video "Life Saving Maps" http://www.esri.com/industries/public-safety/fire-rescue-ems/demos.html
You might also take a look at the typical Incident Command System for wild land fire; it seems to me that several years ago a true GIS position was incorporated into it. Such an approach could/would easily be incorporated for SAR.
A number of years ago I was producing map books of local water ways that were set up on a grid based on river miles; these were especially handy for swift water rescue during run off season; working at a 9-1-1 call center, I distributed the books to call takers/dispatchers along with the SWR teams; everybody is literally on the same page. At the time I was using ArcPublisher & ArcReader, but ArcGIS Server would be a cool route to take now.
Finally, browse through some back issues of Arc User (online); friend and colleague Mike Price with ESRI has published some pretty cool work you might be interested in.
Best of luck to you!