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Texas Task Force 1’s Canine Program hosted nearly 70 canine search specialist teams and search team managers at the FEMA Canine Search Specialist Weekend at Disaster City® on Jan. 24-25.
“We were pleased that 20 of the 28 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams from across the nation were represented at the training event, along with canine teams from Texas Task Force 2,” said TX-TF1 Search Team Manager Susann Brown
During the two-day event, the teams broke up into groups and were able to work with handlers from other areas to make the exercise one that promoted both new training and ideas being shared by all. Members of Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Emergency Team supported the event, ensuring that all canines received excellent care during the training exercises. (In photo, TX-TF1 canine teams gather at Disaster City during the event.)

Canine Search Specialist Teams are highly trained members of urban search and rescue teams, and must be certified by FEMA Urban Search and Rescue to go on a federal deployment. They work on a wide variety of disasters, from tornadoes and hurricanes to wildfires and explosions. Canine Search Specialist Teams spend hundreds of hours in training and most serve on a volunteer basis.
View photos from the training on Flickr.

NOTE: Two participants in the Canine Search Specialist event made national news on their way to the training. Many of those in attendance traveled great distances with their canine companions to reach Texas.  On their flight to Houston, Donovan George and Alex Van’s story took a different route – one that put their paramedic skills to immediate use. Read about how these two California Task Force members from Orange County put their skills to use and saved the life of a fellow passenger. Watch the video on ABC News.

I had the opportunity to send one of my new firefighters through the first TEEX Online Academy, this firefighter was able to follow the given lesson plans very effectively and complete all testing requirements with very positive results. I personally attended several of the practical skills days and witnessed the firefighters performing all of the required skills with confidence and accuracy.

— Chief R.B. Alley (Ret.), Former Chief, College Station Fire Department
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