Riverside to Host K9 Search and Rescue Certification Evaluation
[ecko_alert color=”blue”]Photo above – Nikko, a certified USAR Search and Rescue K9 at The Philadelphia Recycling Mine, the location of the CE this Saturday and Sunday.[/ecko_alert]
Riverside – An important component of a FEMA search and rescue team is the search and rescue dog. These highly trained animals are held to a high standard. Search dogs go through a rigorous 12-24 month training period before they can consider testing. In addition to searching, the K9s must be solid in basic obedience, agility and directional control.
California Task Force 6 is hosting a test on Saturday, April 16th and 17th at the Philadelphia Recycling Mine located at 12000 Philadelphia Avenue in Mira Loma, CA, 91752. Start time is at 8AM and the test will run until 5PM. Nineteen teams from task forces across the United States will be evaluated.
These dogs are expected to perform in emergency situations in unfavorable conditions. Search dogs were called to the tragic terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The teams work night and day. So, a confident dog, disciplined enough to endure harsh weather conditions and unstable environments, is paramount.
The first step in becoming a FEMA search dog is the Fundamental Skills Assessment or “FSA.” This entry level evaluation tests the dog’s obedience, agility and directional control. Once the FSA is passed, the dog moves on to the Certifying Evaluation or “CE.” This test is set up to mimic a real incident and is held on two rubble, wood or brush piles.
The CE includes two searches. The teams have 20 minutes to search each pile and may find four to six victims total. The handler and K9 need to demonstrate control, effective search strategy and the ability to locate victims. The victims are live people strategically buried in the rubble. In addition to victims, distractions like food or clothing are buried. The dogs need to differentiate between live human scent and older scent from clothing. If they can’t, they cannot become certified as FEMA search dogs.