Divers and rescue workers face the same problems over and over again in the event of drowning. With relatively few forces available, an area must be scanned that can usually be described only very vaguely. Furthermore, only a limited amount of time is available when working under water.
As a rule for water searches, it is assumed that no living person will be recovered, merely a body. Our dogs have been specially trained for this event, to indicate not only living persons, but also bodies of different stages of decay below the water’s surface.
In application, this means that the dog - accompanied by its handler - is driven slowly across the water on a boat with a working platform. Once the dog can detect human scent ascending to the surface of the water, it indicates this by barking. As soon as rescue dogs are used for underwater detection, the screening of the riparian zones is ensured by the squadron’s area search dogs.
Using rescue dogs in water location gives divers the following advantages:
- shorter diving times through targeted diving areas
- divers do not have to carry out dangerous scanning of the ground
It can safely be said that no exact pinpointing of the drowned person is possible depending on the type of water, current, water temperature and weather conditions – location within a radius of 15-20 m is, however, generally realistic. One imagines the scent distribution to be cone-shaped with the tip of the cone with the victim. The greater effect these factors have, the greater the radius of the surface.
Effective water location with rescue dogs is not possible on the open sea with strong currents, under the cover of ice, or in weather conditions with heavy precipitation, thunder and lightening, or storms.
Teams can be used in “moderate” weather conditions day and night. The dogs do not need any information (e.g. pieces of clothing) for the missing person – they are trained in such a way that they can indicate any human scent.
Only few units within the German Search and Rescue Dog Association have water search teams and offer this service as a part of their work. Since there are no water search test regulations within our association, these teams - unlike our area search, disaster search or mantrailing teams - cannot be certified according to nationwide regulations.