TEXAS TASK FORCE 1 CANINES ASSIST JOPLIN
Specially trained Texas canines were deployed to help the people of Joplin, MO following the EF-5 tornado that killed more than 125 people earlier this year. Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF 1) provided three canine search teams with two search team managers. The team had offered assistance to Missouri and other states affected by recent severe weather and tornadoes.
“Our canine search teams are dedicated search professionals who work every day to ensure that they are ready to respond and perform,” Susann Brown, TX-TF1 Canine Program Coordinator said. “They are members of one of the most successful Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) canine training programs in the country, and as such have literally written the book on screening and training procedures used by canine search components of state and federal US&R teams. They work daily to be prepared to serve Texas and other states when needed.”
Jim Yeager, TX-TF1 Search Manager and Team Leader for the Joplin deployment said the teams worked for four days in Missouri. Click here to see additional photos of the deployment, courtesy of Texas Task Force 1.
TX-TF1 has 18 canines as part of its Canine Search Team. The canines that were identified to deploy to Joplin were selected based on their completed training with TX-TF1, and/or certifications they have with nationally recognized organizations.
According to Brown, there are approximately 300 Canine Search Teams in the nation that are part of FEMA’s national urban search and rescue program.
“Before an incident, Canine Search Teams train several times a month in order to be prepared for any incident that needs their specialized skills,” Brown said. “When these teams are activated for an event, they arrive at the mobilization location and, like all Task Force members, assist in preparing to move out.”
Brown said during an incident Canine Search Specialist (CSS) teams deploy when needed to perform search operations. And when not searching, they support other functions of the Task Force. After an incident, the teams participate in an evaluation of the deployment in order to identify any additional areas of improvement and incorporate those lessons learned into future trainings.
TX-TF1 trains throughout the year for catastrophic events. Recently, Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), which sponsors TX-TF1, hosted a FEMA canine certification program at its Disaster City facility in College Station. The canine certifications are performed regionally throughout the country every year. Teams who attend have to be in the FEMA US&R system. Of the 20 teams that tested, 13 passed the certification process. Teams that attended were from Task Forces from California, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.