The weather was in cooperation Friday as the Manhattan Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team conducted search and rescue training.
On Friday, the MFD Rescue Team underwent training at Washington Marlatt Memorial Park. The team simulated a search and rescue call following a tornado. Canine handler with the MFD, Kody Songs, says they brought together their three key assets for the mission- the canine unit, drones, and humans. Songs, the handler of the department’s live-find search canine, Duke, talks more about the role of the canine during a search and rescue event.
“Search the areas that are a lot harder for humans to search. Like today’s situation, we have a lot of open area up here on top and then we have woods down below. The drone can cover those open areas pretty well and then Duke’s capability, he can make it down in the trees and search and cover a lot of places that other people can’t see. Then once you get into a disaster where there’s a building collapse or anything like that, the human aspect, we use cameras and listening devices to try and find people. Where we can run the canine across that, pick up odor and pinpoint exactly where that person is and then they can bring the cameras in,” Songs says.
He adds that with such a tall-task in a high-intensity situation, the canines have to train daily as well. Songs says the day-to-day training is more than just mobility and stretching.
“We work on footwork across rubble, we have to be able to work through collapsed houses; basically any treacherous terrain we put them through. We make them work on various situations where they have to use their nose. Scent is key so we make them do a lot of odd things where they have to search through water. The way scent behaves we really try and push them to their limits.”
Search and Rescue Team Captain and drone pilot, David Graham, says Duke integrates well with their other assets, such as drones.
“Where Duke has strong suits in being able to work in all weather and under cover, we can’t work under trees, but we are great at wide-area search,” Graham says.
He tells KMAN more about the use of drones in a search and rescue mission.
“It gives us some thermal capabilities that we’ve used on structure fires already and also being able to track GPS points, and set missions, and things like that.”
Graham says while the department does daily training on specific skillsets, a large scale training event like this allows them to bring everything together.
“It gets us familiar with all of our equipment. It gets us familiar with each other and kind of what we’re thinking. It gets everybody on the same page. It kind of gets us back to our priorities once we get on scene, so there’s no confusion when that time does come, we know exactly what our duties are and who to expect what from.”