Originally, Küster and I were planning on traveling down to Tennessee last weekend. But, due to several things going on with work and life I was unable to get my schedule to cooperate. So last weekend I assisted in what was called a “Stump the Handlers Seminar”. This was scheduled and run by the K-9 Sergeant in on our team and another K-9 handler through another group. They were also able to bring in a Master Trainer who our team trains with often and brought in K-9 handlers from United States and Canada. So if you are asking what is a Stump the Handler’s seminar, this week’s post is all about answering that question. Welcome back to SAR Saturday, Stump the Handler.
The main purpose of this seminar was to put pressure on the dog teams in a training environment. Most of the training K-9 handlers attend is skill based. We work on different parts of the search and then put them into a search scenario. This training begins as a timed search scenario. The K-9 teams were each given a scenario of a crime scene and five minutes to complete the task. This first search w
as on the second floor of a building which had no lighting. If the handlers did not have gear with them they searched without. A few forgot flashlights. The halfway mark was announced of both the time and when the handler was halfway through the floor. Each search was completed double blind. Double bind means that no one knows where people and/or HRD source is hidden. After each team completed the task we regrouped in a classroom and discussed the findings. The handlers were then informed of the where the hidden items and people were. The next part of our day was completing skill-based training working on issues that came out through the scenario. I should also add that that one focus of this training was to work on distractions. Throughout the building were boxes with fresh food, spoiled food, dog treats, etc. Some of the rooms had flashing lights, balls from a children’s ball pit, even bubble wrap covered one floor. The individuals setting up the building search were very creative.
Day two the K-9 teams found themselves completing a large scale search. There were buildings, houses with collapsed roofs, cars, buses and a field to search. Basically a small town. The teams assigned a search manager and reported back to the manager the findings from the individual K-9 units searches. We took about a half day to complete and returned to the classroom to debrief and discuss the findings. The K-9 handlers were then given the information about where the live victims were hiding and where the HRD source was hidden. After lunch we returned to the field and worked on a few problem solving drills.
Finally, the last day with everyone tired and worn out the teams trained on fun drills. They were given stations along a driveway which were to be searched. For added training there was a drone flying over one of the search areas. None of the dogs had been exposed to a operational drone. All the dogs seemed to have a similar response to it. They looked at it and kept on with the search. All in all, everyone came out of the seminar with many new experiences and a few things to work on.
For more pictures from the seminar please take a look at the McLean County EMA Facebook Page. Don’t forget to Like Us while you are there.