West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s search and rescue dog Jessie is continuing her steps towards becoming fully qualified by attending a training session with other search dogs from across the country. Jessie was joined by dogs from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) dogs, like Jessie, are trained to deploy to any large-scale building collapse, be it through a natural disaster such as earthquakes, or even as a result of, for example, gas explosions. The role of the canines is to find any live casualties that are trapped under the rubble. The dogs will stay in the area and bark when they find someone, allowing the search team to move in and rescue the casualty. Although Jessie is based at West Yorkshire she could be deployed anywhere across the UK where she is needed.
In the morning, the dogs took part in an exercise in Wakefield which involved finding a casualty hidden in a large field. This was then followed by some basic obedience training before they headed off to some local woods to get used to finding casualties down ravines, near water and even up trees!
Jessie’s handler Firefighter John Hutchinson, who is based at Cleckheaton Fire Station, said: “Training days like this with partners from other fire services across the country are really important. It allows the dogs to learn from each other – and for the handlers to share best practice too. Jessie has her grading coming up and I’m hoping she can pass first time – something that would be brilliant, as most dogs take three or four attempts.
“For such a young dog she’s doing so well and seeing how some of the more experienced dogs work is good for her development. It’s also important for the dogs to play as well as work so they’ve had some mad time running around with each other too.”
Jessie (second left) and her friends have a relaxing break