Saturday, November 12, 2011

Full Access Pile

Reporting in (not me).  Dog and handler have to report in the evaluators at each site, confirm whether any new hazards or information has emerged since the briefing, introduce themselves and their dog's capabilities and advise a search plan.  You then have 20 minutes to search the pile, which represents a collapsed three story structure.  On the Full Access, as the name implies, you can move anywhere.  The caution for handlers is to let the dog WORK.  If you micro-manage, and keep calling the dog back to you,, it will end up being a walk in the park instead of as search.  When you complete your search you have to draw a map of your search area, indicating the victims located and permanent markers that can be used to pinpoint the area (hint: a bulldozer is not a permanent structure) and what your follow up recommendations are.

I didn't bring my smaller lens, so could only capture long distance photos.  This is the view toward the full access pile.

And this is the full access pile.  The handler is advised what is out of the search area (areas that would be hazardous), which included a ridge that dropped off to a gravel pit on one side.  The handler must have sufficient control over the dog to direct it away from the hazards, if necessary.  Also consider that this is an active work site, so there are trucks on the roads surrounding the search area.

See (below) this sneaky log?  There is debris located about 20 feet off the main body of the rubble.  Naturally, in a disaster this can occur.  Just to the left is a tree that was indicated as the far boundary, so it was tempting to the handler that was not observing his/her dog carefully, to call the dog away from the boundary.  I started my search plan with a perimeter, air-scenting exercise on leash, commonly known as a "patrol route" in police K9 training.  Cooper alerted to scent and I released him to where he ran just downwind of that log and arched back immediately to indicate.  I can always tell when Cooper has found a victim, as, in addition to barking, he tries to penetrate by digging, scratching, biting.  It makes it very clear to me that it isn't just a novel scent attracting him.

This is a labrador, indicating at the victim by the log.

I thought this was hilarious.  I was told it was a Cajun SAR dog.  This labrador sat loose, in the back of his truck, under the umbrella, as the other dogs worked.  I know I wouldn't be able to leave Cooper loose like that and not expect him to join in the fun.   It wouldn't be safe for me to leave a dog unattended like that, but for this one, it seemed to be customary.

And of course, since I have a camera in my hands, I am invariably going to walk around and take scenic photos of such things as.... tree branches?

One last pic.  This is a satellite tower, disguised as a Christmas tree.  Pretty cool