Prepared or not, the great outdoors beckons to many and so members of the El Paso County Search and Rescue (EPCSAR) team were hard at work Saturday making sure their four-legged companions were up to the challenge should trouble arise.
Members of EPSCAR, based out of El Paso County in Colorado, were joined by volunteers from neighboring counties Teller and Fremont over the weekend as they took part in training exercises specifically geared toward K9 certification.
A small taste of what the service animals are capable of was shared on social media as the rescue teams cataloged part of their day.
“Yesterday, our K9s and some fellow K9s from Teller County Search and Rescue and Fremont Search and Rescue, Inc. had an extra special training day at the awesome mountain property of some of our handlers,” EPCSAR wrote on Facebook.
“In addition to practicing their air scenting, trailing, and human remains detection (HRD) skills, they also had the opportunity to experience a traverse on a Tyrolean and practice rappelling,” they went on. “It was great time and resulted in lots of very happy and tired dogs!”
The Tyrolean traverse is commonly used to clear gaps in a similar fashion to outdoor enthusiasts going ziplining, only the K9 is shuttled across with the help of a handler.
EPCSAR is an all-volunteer non-profit organization working under the authority of the El Paso County Sheriff. With a team ranging in size of anywhere from 50 to 80 members, they work to save lives at home and in neighboring counties as part of the larger Colorado Search and Rescue Association.
Of the nine K9s currently on their team, three are still undergoing their National Association of Search and Rescue certifications including Kleiner Münsterländer Watson, born in April, and Labrador Retriever Roux, born in March.
The training that EPCSAR explained their K9s underwent Saturday will lead them toward certification in trailing, area searching, and HRD land and swift water variations. Additional training would help the service dogs learn skills for disaster and avalanche response.
Veteran team member Halo, a Lab/Pointer mix, is credited with aiding in “hundreds of missions…helping return missing people (including deceased persons) to their families and assisting law enforcement with evidence searches.”
The volunteer rescue services respond to calls in El Paso County which covers more than 2,158 square miles boasting altitudes that range between 5,095 and 14,115 feet at the summit of Pikes Peak.
Even with all that area to cover, the typical mission lasts approximately three and a half hours. Of the average 300 calls for help annually that EPCSAR receives, roughly half require a field team response to deal with. For more than 30 years, EPCSAR has been the officially designated search and rescue group of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
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