Responders challenged at search, rescue drill

Some local fire departments recently sniffed out an opportunity for canine collaboration.

The Cherry Grove Volunteer Fire Department hosted emergency responders from the Sheffield, Pleasant, Clarendon and Glade volunteer fire departments on Sunday for a search and rescue drill featuring a search dog team associated with Cherry Grove.

“Cherry Grove Fire Department, for the past five to seven years, has been associated with a search dog team,” Cherry Grove Captain Rusty Barr said. “We wanted to put together a drill to bring neighboring departments together.”

Over the course of the day, responders ran through two scenarios based on incidents the dog team has actually been involved in.

“The purpose of the drill was to give departments experience working with our dogs and handlers,” Barr said. “All in all, the whole day was about training. It was just about getting the dogs out with different members of departments. A chance to get some hands-on experience as far as what’s involved in this type of situation.”

In the first scenario, responders were tasked with finding a lost six-year-old boy who had wandered away from camp. Responders were tasked with setting up a command center, running “hasty” searches put together immediately when arriving on site and working with the aid of three search dogs using a “scent article” provided by the boy’s parents.

In the second, responders searched for a male in his early 30s who had been missing for three or four days. The search was based on finding the man’s truck along the side of a road, which was used as the “scent article” for the dogs. When the man was found, it was revealed the scenario incorporated a broken leg so that the team needed to utilize an ATV belonging to the Pleasant department to bring him out of the forest.

“I can’t stress enough the necessity of working together as a team,” Barr said. “I would classify it as a highly successful drill. Getting multiple department together on a Sunday just shows the dedication of our local emergency services. It really shows a willingness to work together and utilize the resources available.”

Barr said the department is looking into conducting another drill in the fall and involving more departments.