These boots weren’t made for walkies: Our new rescue dogs
MEET the dogs of our war on terror, armed with protective boots and a nose trained to sniff out survivors trapped underneath rubble following an explosion.
Police and fireys are working together on Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) training for seven dogs, which will be ready for action come September.
The dogs are training at a special centre at Ingleburn, which has been built to simulate an explosion or earthquake.
Police dog Koda and handler Duncan Abernethy are among the teams training, which involves the belgian malinois donning specially made protective shoes and sniffing out people trapped up to 1m below rubble.
Sergeant Abernethy said they were only using smaller dogs because bigger dogs such as german shepherds were too unsteady on their feet to navigate the difficult terrain.
“It’s very high impact and very dangerous for the dogs, so we’ve got to really watch them,” he said.
Sgt Abernethy said Koda was being trained to pick up the scent of a person in the air before honing in on the source and barking to alert her handler she has found a survivor. Rescue crews will then bring in advanced equipment to recover the person.
The Ingleburn site features a pile of rubble with a series of tunnels underneath to allow people to hide while the dogs perform mock searches during the training.
Sgt Abernethy said the method could also be used for an incident such as the 2014 building explosion at Rozelle, which killed three people. “Or a building site where the walls have come down. Rather than having the fireys pulling it out brick by brick, they’ve now got a tool they can call on,” he said.
The dogs will also be on call for overseas disasters in selected countries.
Sergeant Duncan Abernethy and Koda. Police dog Koda goes through her training paces. Pictures: Sam Ruttyn