NSARDA Drowned Victim Search Dog (DVSD) handlers Dave Marsh and Sasha (Bolton MRT) and Mike Dermody and Quincy, from SARDA Ireland North spent this weekend training and participating in a multi agency exercise in Berkshire. Dave has given a quick update on the weekend as below
Early Friday afternoon, Mike and I, along with Sasha and Quincy, along with the teams water officer Dave Cook, made out way to our overnight stop at a hotel in Berkshire, to ensure we were ready for what was looking to be a very busy weekend at the National Rowing Centre at Dorney Lake, Berkshire, which some may know is where the Olympic rowing events were held back in 2012.
Dorney is s a man made lake some 2 kilometers long, 500 metres wide with an additional practice lake at the side. It’s fed naturally by an underground aquifer as opposed to what everybody else thinks (i.e. topped up by the River Thames which runs alongside.)
The purpose of the Saturday was to meet up with trainee DVSD handler Philip Eichmann from the local ALSAR (Association of Lowland SAR) team of Berkshire SAR.
Philip has been training his dog Skye to the same NSARDA program as Mike and myself undertook, and we were there to assess how he was progressing.
After taking to the boat to place a “target” (the smell the dog looks for) under the water, and leaving it for an hour to let the smell filter through the water, Philip and Skye took to the boat to begin their first search.
Having explained his search strategy Mike and myself, Philip and Skye along commenced the pre-assessment search, locating the “target” in the first hour, followed by a debrief.
Mike and Quincy then searched for the “target”, locating it and moving it to the River Thames for a bank side search exercise after lunch. At the same time another “target”, whose location was unknown, was placed in the main lake for Dave and Sasha to find as part of the larger exercise.
A briefing was given with the scenario of a person being lost, possibly drowned. A practice life size mannequin had been placed in the water as well as a target for Sasha to find.
The exercise was carried out with Sasha indicating on the target source. The Norfolk Fire and Rescue Dive Team undertook a bottom of the lake search and found the target source directly below where Sasha had indicated. They then carried out an underwater search using a sweep strategy with them successfully locating and retrieving the mannequin placed for the exercise.
Following a break for refreshments, Philip and Skye undertook the bank side search, which ended with Skye actually diving a third of a metre underwater to retrieve the target canister – a very positive and successful find !
Other handlers and dogs made use of the chance to train on both targets during the course of the day with various levels of success being achieved. All agreed it has been a very useful days exercise.
Following a de-brief with all concerned, the handlers, dogs, and others involve during the day made they way home after very long day.
Philip will now have the chance to have a further practice with Dave and Mike using their water venues prior to his assessments in June over in Northern Ireland.
Dave, Mike and Philip (and of course Sasha, Quincy and Skye!) would like to thank all those who made the day possible, including
Lorna Irish – Huddersfield University who is a PhD student studying which gasses on which a DVSD indicated.
Search And Rescue Dog Association – SARDA Ireland North
Bolton Mountain Rescue Team
Berkshire Search & Rescue Dogs
Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service
Surrey Search and Rescue
Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue
Ian Greatbach – who is studying how effective air scenting and water scenting search dogs are.
Needless to say, thanks must be expressed for the use of all the facilities availed to us during the course of the day.