47 K9 Teams. 52 Handlers and Observers. 14 Agencies.
Our largest event to date was held last weekend at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana. K9 teams from all over the country came together to test their skills in the detection of live people and human remains in a variety of disaster environments.
One of the biggest challenges in training the disaster search and rescue dog is that you cannot train for every possible scenario. The nature of disasters is that they can happen at any place, and any time. Handlers and trainers do their best to prepare their dogs using sites locally, but it's not until you remove them from their comfort zone that we really get to see how the teams might handle a deployment.
During the workshop, the handlers worked in small teams and sent their dogs to search into several different environments including buildings, dark spaces, confined spaces, wide areas, rubbled structures, destroyed vehicles, and a derailed train. Our group leaders (all federally certified and experienced K9 handlers) provided mentorship when requested to assist the K9 teams as they worked through the search areas.
Check out our complete gallery of photos from this event here
As a workshop targeted for the intermediate to advanced K9 team, we introduced a number of distractors to provide additional challenges through the scenarios. Handlers and K9s alike were exposed to noxious sounds such as babies crying, howling wolves, gunfire, barnyard animals sounds, people screaming, etc. during search problems (see video below). Scents such as burning wood, car bomb, and dinosaur dung (yes, I said dinosaur dung) were introduced to some of the search areas for additional distraction. Smoke candles were used to provide visual and scent distraction, but were also used after difficult scenarios to demonstrate air flow through search areas.
Our workshops are designed to provide a supportive environment where handlers from all over can work together in sharing ideas and experiences with each other in order to strengthen the readiness of the K9 search element of our nation.
Find out about future events by visiting our Disaster K9 Workshop Page: