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Rescue team’s four-legged members critical to saving lives
Published Friday, March 18, 2016 4:57PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, March 18, 2016 6:46PM MDT
Calgary has one of only four Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Teams in Canada, and uses dogs as a key part of their work.
The three canine members of the team are expected to be ready to fly anywhere in the world to rescue people on just six hours’ notice as members of the Elite Canada Task Force 2.
Three year old Baillie is a veteran of the team and has been involved in three missions here in Alberta, including the 2013 floods and searching through homes in Canmore following a large gas explosion last June.
“Which took out 15 homes and sent 34 people to hospital, we used her to clear the six most damaged homes,” said Kit Huffer, Baillie’s trainer. “We can't send rescuers into some of these structures."
Axel is another member of the team, and so is Cooper, who is still a pup. Each dog has their own personality and strengths, but all of them share a drive to get the job done.
The dogs are trained and tested at a specially designed training yard modeled on real urban disasters such as the 1994 freeway collapse in Los Angeles, and the rubble of the World Trade Centre after the 9/11 attacks.
They are taught to rapidly search every nook and cranny, and stay with survivors until the human members of the rescue team arrive.
“Those first critical 4 or 5 days, find as many viable victims as we can, “ said Huffer. “It's live search, it's all about finding the people that are viable. We're not there to pull the bodies out."
The dogs train every day to be ready for when real disasters strike.