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Family affair for GMFRS search and rescue dog

GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's (GMFRS) search and rescue dog Ace led the way for his son Buster during a training exercise organised by Eccles Fire Station.

Ace and his trainer, Crew Manager Mike Dewar, (pictured below, left) were invited to take part in a multi-agency water rescue training exercise held at Sale Water Park on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

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The exercise was also attended by firefighters from GMFRS' Technical Response Unit (TRU) from Leigh, two fire engines from Farnworth, HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service, the Water Incident Unit from Eccles and two GMFRS volunteers who acted as casualties for the dogs to find.

GMFRS' newest search and rescue dog Ace was joined by his son Buster - a search and rescue dog who's been personally trained by TRU Firefighter Clare Louth (pictured above, right, with Buster).

The exercise scenario involved a man that had fallen into the water and was accompanied by two children who were missing somewhere along the bank of the River Mersey.

Mike said: "After undertaking a risk assessment with the welfare and safety of the dogs very much in mind, we decided to deploy the dogs to the far riverbank by the rescue boat crewed by teams from Eccles.

"Once on the far bank I assessed the search area and due to the nature of the ground and wind direction, decided to carry out a simultaneous sweep search which involved both dogs working side by side at a distance of about 50 metres.

"This requires discipline from the dogs and a very high degree of handler skill to maintain the distances."

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Within the first five minutes of the search, Buster found the first child casualty about 30 metres off the track by giving a strong bark indicating to his handler Clare that a casualty had been found.

Ace continued along his search path and after about 15 minutes found the second casualty, again about 30 metres off the track and this time hid under a large tree stump.

Mike continued: "After rewarding the dogs we led the casualties back to the riverbank and it was nice to hear them swapping stories about how they had been found by the search dogs.

"It was a very valuable training exercise for the dogs and demonstrates how effective they can be in a riverbank search scenario. They are fast and agile, easy to keep on task and can search safely in areas that would put human rescuers in danger.

"Both dogs have received extensive aquatic training and would know instantly what to do in the event of a submersion in the river."

Last update: 23/03/2016 08:19:28
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