By Nancy Nais
JET, a Labrador trained to search urban disaster sites for live bodies, is always ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
A demonstration of these specially trained canines (K9) attached to the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) unit in Old Klang Road, which DayakDaily was privy to, was a mastered example of the skills the furry `officers’ have, thanks to the training they undergo every day.
Two Labradors and an English Springer Spaniel were put into action.
As his handler Mugundthan Krishnasami prepares him for ‘work’, Jet was tasked to find the writer, who was ‘hidden’ in one of the wooden boxes, surrounded with ladders and tyres.
The moment Mugundthan signaled him, Jet knew it was time to work.
When the leash was released, Jet literally jumped into action, running all over the designated area, sniffing out for the ‘victim’.
After searching for a mere minute, Jet started barking as loud as he could, as a sign to his handler that he found the ‘victim’.
As the ‘victim’ crawled out of the box, Jet was all excited again because for these dogs, work is just like a game.
Once his job was done, Jet eagerly waited for his reward — a tennis ball to play with.
Few minutes later, it was Reilly’s (English Springer Spaniel) turn to strut his stuff in sniffing accelerant.
When handler Francis Simeon attached Reilly’s harness on his body, the hyper dog sprang into action in no time, looking for traces that can cause fire.
This was followed by Leroy Kirah Dunging, instructing his dog Lady (Labrador, an expert in cadaver) to find a ‘dead body’ (dummy made with meat scent).
Within seconds, both Reilly and Lady signaled their respective handlers with loud barks and wagging tails, excitedly waiting for their tennis balls to play with as their reward for a job well done.
According to the unit’s chief operation officer Senior Assistant Superintendent Kaya Bangkong, the main key to any successful mission is the close relationship between the dog and its handler.
“Dogs cannot talk to humans. So, the only way for a handler to communicate effectively and work together hand in paw with his dog is by bonding,” Kaya explained.
The Bomba K9 unit is one of the enforcement agencies being used every day to help with fire investigations by providing aid to the team to investigate unidentified fire origins and circumstances caused.
They also conduct search and rescue operations for live victims that involves collapsed building, collapsed land structure, landslide, missing people in forest, caves or highlands and dead victims in water and land.
“What you see in this demonstration is how we train them, as realistic as possible because we want to be prepared to help out in anyway, no matter what the incident it is out there,’ Kaya said.
He added that the K9 detection skills alone was not enough without agility and tactical obedience.
“The dogs are trained to go directly to the source of the odor. That way, the officers can search in the particular area, as the dogs can point it out as close as possible.”
He hoped more people would understand what these dogs were capable of and why they were deployed in real life situations.
After all, it is the department’s vision to be a world class unit and at par with other international dog rescue teams. — DayakDaily