DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Task Force One hosted specialized training and evaluations for K-9 search and rescue teams across the county Saturday and Sunday at their training facility on McFadden Avenue in Dayton.
In an event of a building collapse or natural disaster, brave men and woman and their four-legged partners jump into action to rescue people in distress. This weekend, those rescue teams traveled to the Miami Valley to be evaluated and better their skills to keep you and your family safe.
A pile of concrete and rubble is the training facility for Ohio Task Foce One–a specialized rescue team that’s called when disaster strikes. This weekend, teams from Massachusetts to Florida to Texas are being tested, with the spotlight on their K-9 partners.
“I feel very confident in his performance today,” K-9 handler Frank Garcia said. “He did very nice.”
Garcia is with Florida Task Force One and a handler to Tripp–who was once a rescue himself. Now, Tripp is doing the rescuing.
“This is one of our key tools,” Ohio Task Force One Leader Doug Cope said. “To find victims trapped in collapsed structures.”
Real people playing as victims are planted throughout the piles. It’s the dog’s job to search independently and smell for survivors.
“Once the dog finds human scent,” Cope said. “They then bark alert. 3 or 4 focused barks.”
The handler then goes to the dog on the pile and marks the spot, while the dog continues to search the pile for more survivors.
“If they’re still alive these dogs will find them,” Cope said. “And pin point the area for our rescue team members.”
This search technique helps narrow down a search area from roughly 8,000 square feet to 10 square feet. No matter the breed, each dog’s skills are used where they best see fit.
“It’s all about the individual dog,” Cope said. “And how they respond to the ruble and work with their handler.”
Dogs are trained to go after what they think is a toy.
“They’re always looking for that person they can’t see,” Garcia said. “In their mind, that’s the only person that’s going to engage with them, play with them so they’re looking for that reward.”
Garcia says dogs like Tripp offer that special hope to families hurting.
“These dogs give a lot of family a lot of hope and possibility,” Garcia said. “That their family is going to be rescued.”
A total of 24 dogs and their K-9 handlers participated in the testing, which is done in Dayton once every three years.