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Dogs sniff out trouble in Dandenong
In early May 2015 a training partnership was struck up between Dandenong Fire Brigade's B platoon and SARDA (Search and Rescue Dogs Australia).
Leading Firefighter Jason Halls and SARDA’s Julie Cowan were instrumental in developing the partnership. Training was intended to allow for multi-agency interaction, allowing for both CFA staff and SARDA dog handlers to gain a better understanding of the capabilities that both services have to offer and to develop strong working relationships.
Search and Rescue Dogs Australia (SARDA) is a charitable, non-profit volunteer organisation incorporated in 1994 and is based in Victoria and also with teams in Queensland. SARDA currently trains its teams for assessment and deployment in Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) with Australian USAR taskforces.
During June 2015, two weekend training sessions were conducted using the old Dandenong fire station site at 120 Princes Hwy, Dandenong. LFF Halls had constructed a BA/USAR2 training facility on level 3 of the building and this was to be used for search and rescue training for the dogs and handlers, along with the complex’s ground floor which was filled with smoke to add a further search challenge.
Another component of the training was using Dandenong’s 42-metre ladder platform to lift the dogs and handlers, to become familiar with heights. The dogs were then craned on to the complex roof and training tower, using the dog harness from the SARDA USAR2 cache.
CFA Rope rescue instructors also practised with repelling the dogs and the handlers from the training tower. This provided the dogs and handlers with the invaluable experience of working at heights and CFA’s rescue systems.
After the success of the first two training days, a long-lasting partnership has now been formed that will see Dandenong’s B Platoon and SARDA members train together four to five times a year in various disciplines.