Former Team SARDA Dog Handler Dave Marsh reports on a Specialist Search and Rescue Dog Training weekend

This weekend of 10th and 11th September 2011, saw our retired SARDA Dog Handler Dave Marsh travelling down to Rhyl, North Wales, to take part in a Search Dog assessment on behalf of other third parties.

You might wonder why Rhyl? Well explanations to follow. (With thanks to Dave Marsh)

If a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happens, the normal procedures are to send assistance via the international arm of the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services, which includes USAR (Urban Search and Rescue Dogs) Search Dogs.

Up until recently, this operation was undertaken by volunteer members of BIRD [British International Rescue Dogs] and also RAPID UK [Rescue and Preparedness in Disasters].

By undertaking continual assessments, like the one in Rhyl this weekend, it means that Search Dogs and their handlers are of appropriate operational standards at all times.

The assessments were based on a simulated collapsed building using boulders of between 3.5 tonnes and 9.0 tonnes, with volunteers acting as casualties who were caught up in the melee, by hiding in between the many voids the site had to offer.

Different scenarios included rubble piles and open area searches.
On the Sunday, the cellars of the beautiful Penhryn Castle were opened for use, which meant simulated searches could be undertaken in the dark.

At the conclusion of all the exercises it was pleasing to note three Search Dogs maintained their certificate of readiness and a new dog and handler also passed and are now available should the need arise.