Page 10 - HOT NEWS MARCH 2014
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A new search and rescue dog has joined the specialist rescuers at our Service.
Labrador Retriever Belle started training for her new role when she was 12-months-old. She is now two- years-old and has completed her tests to become a full-time member of the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team.
She will work alongside the fire and rescue service’s current search and rescue dog Zak, until he retires in approximately two years’ time. From then Belle will carry on as Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Search And Rescue (SAR) dog.
Crew Manager Jo Stephens, who is the Search and Rescue Team (SRT) canine handler, said: “The USAR dog team is an integral part of the Search and Rescue Team as they are trained to search for and detect the scent of inaccessible alive casualties, buried in rubble or partially collapsed structures. No other piece of equipment can beat the speed of the dog for this task. They can locate the casualty quickly to enable a rescue.
“Belle has been deployed to a building collapse in St Helens last year where she searched well and was able to confirm that no persons were trapped under the collapsed building. This reduced the risks to crews in searching the area.
“She will also be used with International Search and Rescue (ISAR), along with members of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s Search and Rescue Team, for international deployments.
“Belle has settled in well at home and gets on well with the other MF&RS search dogs.”
Belle’s training took approximately six months before she underwent further tests and built on her experience during incident call-outs.
Belle with her Urban Search and Rescue Team handler Jo Stephens. Photo: Chris Phillips.
Current USAR Dog:
Name: ZAK
Male, Border Collie
Date Of Birth: 21/01/05 Been with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service since he was six-months-old.
Fire Investigation Dog:
Name: TEAL
Female, Springador
Date Of Birth: 11/11/08
Been with the fire and rescue service since she was a one- year-old.
Belle during training for her rescue role. Photo: Crew Manager Jo Stephens.

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