COLLEGE STATION – Twenty-five canine handlers and two search team managers, as well as 17 search and rescue dogs, spent 50 hours honing their skills in Disaster City? during the Disaster Canine Search Specialist class in December. Participants came from eight states and as far away as Australia to attend the specialized training at one of the foremost search and rescue canine training facilities in the nation.
“All participants, whether two-legged or four-legged, benefited from training in our unique facility and from networking with these disaster response professionals,” said Susann Brown, Training Manager with Texas Task Force 1, and one of the course instructors.
“I’ve never been to a training center this amazing with every different type of prop,” said Jeffrey Leon of Oklahoma Task Force 1, Tulsa, OK. “It’s incredible. You can change everything for different scenarios. My dog is having a blast. I would highly recommend this class to anybody that’s a beginning or experienced handler.”
“It’s been an exciting experience,” said Cathee Colbran, K9 Team handler from New South Wales State Emergency Service in Sidney, Australia. “I’ve really learned a lot from A to Z. All of the dog experience and training, all of the theory and practical, it comes together in a really nice package.
“The facilities here at Disaster City are just amazing. It’s as realistic as you can get, but at the same time, it’s safe. [TEEX] has equipment purpose built and designed exactly for dog work. That only enhances the learning experience, and you can really fine-tune and tweak any problems that you are having and anything you want to further develop. The agility facility is just perfect.”
Brown said the class, which was conducted by TEEX Emergency Services Training Institute, consisted of both state and federal disaster canine teams from around the nation. “That aspect is what made the class so successful. The skill and knowledge of handlers and canines, whether they were from the state teams or the federal teams, was outstanding and challenged the instructors to adjust the field portion of the class to accommodate these high performers,” Brown said.
Colbran complimented the instructors: “All of the instructors have been exceptional with their knowledge and their willingness to share information to try to help each handler and their dog to try and get the best out of every single experience.
“Everyone has come together for the same purpose, and everybody here wants to learn. At the end of the day, we all just want to save a life, and that’s our purpose,” Colbran said.