Disaster K9 Workshop October 2016: Australia

 
 

Canine search teams and support members from several agencies joined us for a 4-day Disaster K9 Workshop in Melbourne, Australia October 29th - November 1st 2016.

Operational K9 Will (SARDA)

Operational K9 Will (SARDA)

This workshop was made possible by the hard work and dedication of Search and Rescue Dogs Australia (SARDA), a volunteer-based not-for-profit organization that provides specially trained search and rescue dogs for Australian Emergency Services to assist in locating missing persons. SARDA members have worked tirelessly since their incorporation in 1994 to advance the K9 USAR capability of Australia by continuously seeking and sharing knowledge from experts within Australia and internationally. Superfit Canine was honored to have been invited to lead their 2016 event, designed to share ideas and concepts in developing effective K9 search teams, and to provide challenging, blinded search scenarios to participants. K9 search teams and emergency services leaders from across Australia were invited to attend the event. We were honored to be welcomed at the launch of the event by passionate dog lover and Victorian Parliamentary Secretary of Emergency Services, Harriet Shing MP. 

 
K9 Boof (Search Dogs Sydney) completes an agility course with handler Adele Jago

K9 Boof (Search Dogs Sydney) completes an agility course with handler Adele Jago

 
Operational K9 Obie (SARDA) waits patiently for the next command amongst a gauntlet of distractions (Handler Andrew Cowan)

Operational K9 Obie (SARDA) waits patiently for the next command amongst a gauntlet of distractions (Handler Andrew Cowan)

During the event, K9 teams sharpened their agility skills by completing dynamic obstacle courses with combined elements. Handlers practiced concepts that can help strengthen the bond with their K9, and improve their performance in the presence of strong distractors.

 

 

Participants learned through group discussion and demonstration how a comprehensive fitness program can improve health and performance, and reduce injury of their K9 partners. 

Tracy Darling demonstrates exercises to help keep working dogs fit with 5 month old K9 Ferr"Ari" (SARDA)

Tracy Darling demonstrates exercises to help keep working dogs fit with 5 month old K9 Ferr"Ari" (SARDA)

Tracy Darling demonstrates exercises to help keep working dogs fit with 5 month old K9 Will (SARDA)

Tracy Darling demonstrates exercises to help keep working dogs fit with 5 month old K9 Will (SARDA)

Classroom instruction included a comprehensive overview of heat injury in the working K9. Handlers and other participants learned about this devastating injury, and techniques for early detection, prevention and emergency treatment to keep their K9 safe.

K9 Boof (Search Dogs Sydney-Handler: Adele Jago) sails across the mixed rubble pile courtesy of the generous support of Alex Fraser Group.

K9 Boof (Search Dogs Sydney-Handler: Adele Jago) sails across the mixed rubble pile courtesy of the generous support of Alex Fraser Group.

K9 Obie (SARDA) is focused on finding the "survivor" during an exercise.

K9 Obie (SARDA) is focused on finding the "survivor" during an exercise.

K9 teams were able to challenge their USAR skills on a fresh rubble pile courtesy of the generous participation of Alex Fraser Group. This event would not have been possible without their financial support and use of their concrete recycling facility and classroom space. Alex Fraser Group has embraced SARDA's mission in building the K9 USAR capability in Australia and was incredibly supportive throughout the workshop.

Royal Canin also provided generous financial support for this event.

 
K9 BB (SARDA) with handler Anne Forwood and instructor Eric Darling.

K9 BB (SARDA) with handler Anne Forwood and instructor Eric Darling.

Participants had an opportunity to work through dynamic blinded search problems on a new rubble pile, which is essential in the development of an effective USAR K9 team. Group discussion followed each exercise, allowing all participants to learn from each other and talk through challenging concepts. Each exercise built upon the last. Distractors and stressors were added to each scenario to challenge the participants' critical thinking skills. In addition, Australia was happy to inject some high winds and rain to make the exercises more interesting!

The workshop was wrapped up with a disaster scenario, where participants worked with each other to develop search strategies in response to a mock earthquake with a building collapse. 

 
K9 Will (SARDA), handler Julie Cowan and instructor Eric Darling carefully traverse the rubble among high winds during the workshop.

K9 Will (SARDA), handler Julie Cowan and instructor Eric Darling carefully traverse the rubble among high winds during the workshop.

The event was made possible by incredible hard work and dedication of the members of Search and Rescue Dogs Australia (SARDA). Their enthusiasm is truly infectious and we cannot say enough about the dedication of this team to provide a valuable resource to the people of Australia.

Visit Supefit Canine Photography for a complete gallery of photos from this event.

Visit our Disaster K9 Workshop (link below) page for a schedule of future events.