Heroes, both dogs and fire fighters are training right around the corner.
On July 9, a milestone event at the National Training Center (Home of America’s Canine Disaster Search Teams) was held when the search teams deployed to Nepal were honored. The world looked on as TEAM USA joined first responders from around the world searching for survivors of the deadly Nepal earthquake. The Canine Disaster Search Teams who took part in the rescue operations are home now, already back in training for the next deployment.
The Search Dog Foundation (the nonprofit that trained six of these teams) is building a 125 acre National Training Center to give America’s Search Teams the advanced training needed for their most challenging deployments around the world and here at home. There will be a grand-opening next year.
The Center will be the first facility of its kind in the nation. A place where rescued dogs (yes, rescued dogs) become rescuers and where America’s Search Teams can practice on disaster simulation scenarios under the expert guidance of professional canine trainers. The setting is a beautiful rustic canyon located off of Foothill. The NTC will be a place where rescued dogs will learn to be rescuers and the dogs with their firefighter-handlers will get the advanced training they need for the most challenging deployments. It will be the only training facility in the U.S. dedicated solely to first responders and their canine partners who risk their lives to make sure no one is left behind in the wake of a disaster.
The “Disaster Training Zone” at the Center will include a simulated tornado stricken town, a collapsed freeway, a demolished hotel, huge rubble piles and a train wreck. Some of which are in construction.
The train cars were transported by rail from Fillmore to Santa Paula where they were lifted by cranes onto four trucks to bring the trains to the NTC. They were generously donated by Fillmore&Western Railroad.
They were then trucked from the bottom of the property to further up the canyon. Two cranes on either side of each truck lifted the trains and placed them in their final destination. At one spot on this very winding road the rear of a truck was actually lifted into the air to make the bend. Because the entrance to the facility was too small a neighbor gave the Foundation permission to build a road on an adjacent property to get the trains onto Foundation land.
On July 9th, the Petco Foundation announced a $2,500,000 “Pathway to Completion” Challenge Grant to help the Search Dog Foundation (SDF) build America’s first National Training Center. The 2.5 million donation takes the NTC campaign into its final phase of fundraising to be completed by the end of next year and will allow SDF to open the Training Center on September 24, 2016 during its 20th Anniversary year. The Petco Foundation Grant is the latest in a succession of generous gifts from SDF’s supporters , both companies and individuals across the nation who have donated a total of $23.5 million in support of the training Center project.
Besides honoring the six SDF trained search teams the Navy reservists, and Seabees who are helping to build the Center were honored as were the wonderful trainers that teach these dogs to overcome their fears in working in collapsing, burning and unstable buildings. And celebrated the delivery of the full-sized train cars that will be used as search “props.”
The campus is already a busy place. Sixteen search dog candidates (rescues dogs with the maniacal toy drive and extreme athleticism needed for disaster search) are training each day on the 10,000 sq. ft. Rubble Pile and in the expansive Covered Training Arena-learning the agility, direction control, obedience, and search skills they’ll need on deployments. They could be heard barking in the background. About 20% of the dogs are not accepted to the program. Your nice calm dog that doesn’t tear up the furniture would not be a good candidate.
The Search Dog foundation – National Train Center is located way up 6800 Wheeler Canyon Road in Santa Paula even though it seems to be Ventura.
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