Training exercise attended by our Trainee DVSD Dog Handler (Also our Training Officer) Dave Marsh

During the course of the Team’s training opportunities, we get to work and train alongside our colleagues from the different emergency services and to also pass comment on how these other agencies work.

Today, such an opportunity took place in the shape of a mock USAR search dog assessment over at Hapton, Lancashire, which was attended by our Trainee DVSD Dog Handler (Also our Training Officer) Dave Marsh. (A former SARDA England Mountain Rescue Air Scenting Search Dog Handler)

The mock assessments are undertaken on a 6 monthly basis by members of the Fire Service UKSAR [United Kingdom Search and Rescue].

These members are fire fighters who then specialise in being trained up and made available to travel abroad to attend major incidents such as earthquakes and other natural disasters, being invited to respond at the request of the host Government to our Government, and then mobilised as a national UKSAR fire response for humanitarian purposes. [recently Haiti, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey]

The exercise of today was organised by one such member – Kirt Livesey UKSAR Technician /Search Dog Handler, Blue Watch, Urban Search & Rescue, Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service with Mike Dewar from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service who is a UKSAR dog handler, being the person under scrutiny along with his search dog Ace.

The mock assessments were at a site in Hapton, which had previously been occupied by a large mill.

With demolition complete, the site has been partially cleared, but with enough debris remaining to create a ’disaster area’.

Persons were placed in ‘hides’ and it was left to Mike and Ace to locate the target areas.

Following two successful searches, Mike and Ace will now progress to participate in a full assessment early next year.

Also on the training programme was Claire Louth [from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue] and her trainee search dog Buster [a Yellow Labrador]. The twosome completed the same scenarios as previous with great improvements being made over the course of the day.

Dave’s thanks go to Kirt for the invite across to Hapton and also crew members from his station for the backup help, and to fellow assessor Joe Flood from Greater Manchester Police Dogs section, who passed many constructive comments during the day relating not only to the assessment but dog training in general.

To quote Mr. Kipling – “an exceedingly good time was had by all”.