Canine Search Teams (handler and canine) play a critical role during structural collapse incidents. The canines locate survivors, using their incredible sense of smell to detect live human scent, even from a survivor buried deep in rubble.
Our team is also made up of HRD, or Human Remains Detection, K9's. HRD dogs are trained to specifically find the odor of human remains. HRD dogs are trained to ignore live human scent and animal scent, and only indicate on human remains. These dogs can be used to find human remains related to crime scenes, missing persons cases, small scent sources, and natural or man-made disaster events.
The K9 handlers on our team are comprised of civilians, firefighters, and EMS Personnel. Our team is made up of Labradors, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, as well as several mixed-breed dogs who were rescued from shelters or surrendered by their past owners.
Canines with high "toy drive" are used for urban search and rescue. It is a game of "hide and seek" for the dog. In training, team members hide from the dog with a toy, and play with the dog when found. By the time the dog is on a real search, he is looking willingly for trapped survivors.
Each K9/handler team must pass a rigorous national certification in urban search and rescue. K9/handler teams must be re-certified every three years in order to participate in SAR operations. K9's must be well-trained and physically and emotionally mature enough to do this job.
The handler certification includes tests regarding search strategies and tactics, mapping, search and victim markings, briefing and debriefing skills, in addition to canine handling skills.
For the disaster search K9, skills must include: excellent agility, command response, a focused bark alert to indicate a find, and a willingness to persist in the search for victims in spite of possible extreme temperatures and animal, food and noise distractions. The canine must also be confident enough to search independently and must be able to negotiate slippery surfaces, balance wobbly objects underneath his feet and go through dark tunnels.
K9 teams have been deployed to some of the most significant disasters in US History, including the World Trade Center & Pentagon on 9/11, Major Hurricanes, Earthquakes and Tornadoes.
TN Task Force 1 K9's have searched locally for missing persons, around the state during the Gatlinburg Wildfires of 2016 and across the country during major natural and man-made disasters.
Dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than a human.
Dogs can smell separately with each nostril!
Dog’s also have the ability to take in and breathe out air at the same time.
Dog’s have a special scent-detecting organ that humans don’t have.