An exercise held at Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ (QFES) training academy today has unleashed future capabilities for the state’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) K9 squad.
Twelve K9 volunteer handlers and their dogs took part in the training session which involved a range of skills including tracking a live scent to locate a missing person under the rubble.
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the internationally renowned QFES K9 squad was an important asset to Queensland, deploying to disasters in countries including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Japan.
“Ten years ago, QFES deployed USAR technicians and the K9 squad in response to the Christchurch Earthquake,” Mr Ryan said.
“Shortly after supporting New Zealand in disaster response, they were deployed again to support the Japanese community after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the local community of Tōhoku.
“The K9 squad adds several layers of capability to the USAR team, with many of the volunteer handlers being veterinarians and emergency vets.
“Also, this squad holds an entirely different capability to traditional land search squads as these dogs are trained to detect people they have never smelt before.
“Having a Queensland-based K9 squad is incredibly important for both the local community and international community.”
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said training days were an excellent opportunity for the K9 squad to meet and discuss new training techniques, identify areas to improve and maintain and build their capabilities.
“The K9 squad is valuable for QFES’ disaster response capability and, as it takes two to three years of training and assessment for handlers and dogs to become qualified, training as a team is vitally important,” Mr Leach said.
“This training day is the last formal exercise opportunity before one volunteer handler and dog in training will sit their final assessment.
“We are always working to train new handlers and dogs to ensure future needs of the community can be met.”