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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Northern Ireland’s K9 Search & Rescue team make ‘groundbreaking’ trip to California

The K9 Search and Rescue NI crew have just returned home after what was described as a ‘groundbreaking’ visit to the National Search Dog Foundation, California.

Three years in the planning, the team’s initial 12 day visit was the first international team to stay and train on-site with the foundation.

As a vital service, K9 Search and Rescue NI uses level 3 air-scenting dogs for search and victim rescue at the request of HM Coastguard and families.

The organisation said the main goal of the trip to the States was to learn and gain vital skills on how K9’s operate to best effect in an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) settings, from collapsed buildings to transportation incidents.

A spokesperson for K9 Search and Rescue NI shared:

“Our first days were spent with the staff at SDF, watching and learning how they rescue dogs from across the US, and turn them into rescuers on disaster sites. The work they do is phenomenal.

“Our Dog Handlers then worked their dogs on their man made disaster sites, from motorway collapses, derailed trains and building collapses.”

Continuing the spokesperson said:

“During our stay, we took part in a large, all night mobilisation exercise with a multitude of USAR teams and fire departments, on-site at SDF. We were imbedded with their initial Search Teams, as well as utilising the K9’s, to locate trapped people. Over 60 people required to be located and rescued.

“Being able to talk to people who have used K9’s on some of the biggest disasters in recent times, including the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was very moving.”

After returning home to Northern Ireland, the dedicated team confirmed that the next trip is already in the planning with the hope of taking their own K9’s to California’s National Search Dog Foundation.

The spokesperson concluded: “The cost of the trip was completely covered by the members that travelled to SDF. Our members go above and beyond, to continue to be the best at what we do, in order to give the best service to the public.”


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