Search & Rescue Training at Camp Atterbury

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. (WTHI) - When it comes to search and rescue training, there aren’t many places that top Indiana’s Camp Atterbury.  Vigo County’s Search and Rescue team went to Camp Atterbury for a conference.  News 10 tagged along with the team to learn more about why Camp Atterbury is such a good place for them to train.

Kenna Duguay is a K9 handler for Vigo County Search and Rescue.  She’s been paired with her partner, Maggie, for about three years.  Maggie is a cadaver dog.  She’s trained to find the deceased.

“It’s not about us,” Kenna told us.  “It’s about closing someone else’s chapter, giving someone peace of mind because we found their relative.”

Kenna and Maggie have trained here at Camp Atterbury before.  The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has a setup here that draws teams from all over the United States, and even other countries.  At Camp Atterbury, teams are able to train in three different areas, including an office setting, and outdoors.

“Other places in the country might have just the rubble or building pieces.  Here in Indiana, we’re lucky that we have a center where we can do everything at once,” said Lillian Hardy of Indiana Homeland Security.

This includes a briefing area and classrooms all on site.  Kenna and Maggie worked a mock plane crash site.  Instructors set up hits in advance for the dogs to find.  Maggie found three of four, including some hits in very difficult places to find.

Said Kenna, “You never know.  Whatever situation may be out there, somebody may call you and say, ‘hey, we have an aircraft that’s down.’  And how many times do you in your back yard or Vigo County have an airplane just sitting around for us to say ‘hey, can we work your airplane?’”

This place is hopping year round with training events not just for cadaver dogs, but also tracking and trailing dogs, ice rescue, and crime scene operations.  And all training is under the watchful eyes and guidance of Indiana Homeland Security.

“We offer the training to our students for free to come in and do search and rescue,” Hardy said.  “We train about 600 people a year with our own classes, and we’ve probably got more than 2000 people that come through and just utilize the facilities.”

Previously, we showed you Blaze, the newest addition to the Vigo County Search and Rescue team.  Indiana Homeland Security’s Search and Rescue site at Camp Atterbury is where dogs like Blaze come to get certified.  In a year’s time, Blaze will be certified in search and rescue and accelerant detection.

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