Disaster search

Numerous accidents lead to persons being buried and rescue dogs needing to be used.

The most extensive damage situations can occur from earthquakes. All houses in a whole area are often destroyed and numerous persons buried. What is needed here is a large number of search teams that can be on site within a pre-defined timeframe.

The causes that can lead to individual buildings or parts of buildings falling down and the need for search and rescue dogs are very varied, and include gas explosions, defective construction works, storm influences, plane crashes, impact loads from vehicles, fire exposure and overloading of components. In these cases it is required that several teams of rescue dogs can be employed in the shortest space of time at the damage location.

The requirements of the teams are extremely vast due to the very varied situations. Every mission begins with an assessment of the situation and the dangers associated with it. The use of dogs takes place in precisely established sections. It is necessary for dogs to be able to be guided very precisely and to be controlled at all times. Large debris, difficult access, unpleasant ground conditions and numerous distractions must not influence the dogs.

Due to the complexity of mission situations, the possible dangers and required specialisation, an extraordinarily high state of training in the area of debris is indispensable. Dogs, like handlers, mission helpers, group leaders, and squadron leaders, must be trained to the highest level in order to be optimally prepared for all situations.

Debris training is supervised in specialised departments at the BRH. The mission unit trains squadron and group leaders nationwide for missions at home and abroad.

In the specialist debris department, several training programmes for handlers and dogs are offered every year. Much of this training takes place in theory and practice in the Association’s own training centre in Hünxe. In addition, training courses are required for as many different terrains and debris zones as possible to prepare the teams for the most varied requirements. To this end, many different debris fields are available at the BRH. In addition, weekly training courses are carried out on foreign terrain by BRH trainers.

The focus of training for dogs is finding and signalling of lost persons under the most varied conditions. Dealing with very bad weather conditions is an important part of training for rescue dogs, just like dealing with the most varied debris structures. An additional element of debris training involves the guidability of dogs, in order to send them into different areas in a targeted manner, but also to be able to keep them away from dangerous areas.

Dog handler/dog teams are accompanied in the debris mission by mission helpers, group leaders, and the squadron leader. Together with the mission unit, another specialised department in the BRH, the department for basic education, ensures the theoretical training of all mission staff. Radio, search and mission tactics, debris exploration, abseiling of dogs and humans as well as dangers within the mission are taught extensively and are the most important pillars of theoretical training together with regular courses in first aid for humans and dogs.

An additional qualification is required for missions abroad. Under mission conditions, teams must successfully handle several search areas one after the other with an unknown number of missing persons as part of a 24-hour test.