CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. (WTHI) – Without highly trained dogs and handlers, there would be no search and rescue teams. But no dog or handler goes on a search alone. They’re supported by a whole team, starting with incident command. The handlers are briefed on the mission. They meet law enforcement in the field.
“We have a whole team that goes out with each of these K9’s, and that team’s job is to pick up clues, to look for clues, because that dog tells us ‘this is where we’re going,'” explains Robin Stanifer, who heads up the Vigo County Search and Rescue team.
Communication with incident command is vital, especially when teams are out in the field. That’s why Vigo County SAR utilizes amateur radio operators, and for most teams that’s a luxury they don’t have.
“For three-quarters of that group, this is a totally new situation of working with comms to be able to have some sort of communication between the teams and control,” said George Shepherd, an amateur radio operator who volunteers for the search and rescue team.
Every time a dog finds something, the handlers tell the radio team, who relays that information back to incident command. That accountability is important and shows the entirety of what the mission uncovered.
So how will Blaze fit in to all of this? Does he have what it takes to be the county’s next search and rescue dog?
“Blaze’s personality… He just jumps in and says ‘I’m ready,'” said handler Kenna Duguay.
“Blaze wants to learn. He’s got a lot of good drive, and that’s what we look for,” said Stanifer.
He’s also with a motivated handler in Darrick Scott. The bar is set high, but the leader of Vigo County’s Search and Rescue team says this new team will meet the challenge.
News 10 will keep you posted on the progress of Blaze as he continues his training. He should be certified in search and rescue later this year.