West Midlands Fire Service has welcomed a paw-some new colleague to the Technical Rescue Unit (TRU).
One-year-old Luna, a Belgian Malinois, has joined the fire service family and em‘bark’ed on her specialist training to become an Urban Search and Rescue Dog.Once she completes her training, in around 12-18 months’ time, Luna will take over the lead from existing Search and Rescue Dog Cara in the WMFS Technical Rescue Unit (TRU). Six-year-old Cara, who joined WMFS in 2015, was the first Belgian Malinois in the country to qualify as a USAR dog – a role usually reserved for Collies, Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels and black Labradors. Cara is currently the only Search and Rescue Dog in the West Midlands and one of just 18 in the national USAR team.
The TRU provides Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) expertise and a wide range of other skills as part of the West Midlands’ support for national specialist response arrangements. They are able to respond and carry out rescues at incidents where people are missing and their precise location is unknown. This could include building explosions or large-scale collapses of factories or other large properties and incidents where a comprehensive specialist response is required.
Firefighter and Dog Handler Mick Attwood and Cara – along with other members of WMFS – also form part of the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team which means Luna, when qualified, could be deployed internationally to assist with an overseas incident.
Mick, who has been a dog handler for almost four years, is based at Bickenhill Fire Station and looks after both Luna and Cara at his home near Lichfield. He said:
“Our Technical Rescue Unit prides itself on being able to deliver a local, national and international response to major incidents, including humanitarian situations.
“Search and Rescue Dogs are an integral part of this. For incidents where people are missing, canines are the best tool there is to locate them as they are trained to find and indicate on live scent.
“Belgian Malinois dogs have really good traits and characteristics for this role and Luna is no exception. She has lots of energy and enthusiasm, is in great health and is incredibly agile. And, of course, she has a really good nose, something that is vital for sniffing out live human scent in emergency situations.”