Rescue Dog Team Taichung City Government – “Training the (Furry) Heroes of Tomorrow”
Following last year’s 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Hualien, a rescue dog named Tie-Hsiung (Iron Hero) became an overnight viral sensation after he located two victims in the rubble of the collapsed Marshall Hotel. Tie-Hsiung, a four-year-old golden Labrador, had only joined the fire department two years previously – making Hualien his first ever mission as a qualified rescue dog.
Lin Hongwei, the captain of Taichung City Government’s Rescue Dog Team, says Tie-Hsiung’s outstanding performance shows the importance of having a rescue dog team in natural disasters.
“In modern times, while we have lots of different rescue technologies, we can often forget that there is often no electricity during a natural disaster. Under such conditions, when these modern technologies don’t work – the rescue dog squad is necessary.” He explains.
Currently, Tie-Hsiung and the Rescue Dog Team are based in Guangfu Village, where they train daily to improve their search and rescue skills in a variety of environments.
Starting from when they are three months old, dogs like Tie-Hsiung are trained in three different search methods – mantrailing (searching a small area for a lost person), area search (searching a larger area for people following a natural disaster like a flood), and rubble search (searching a collapsed building following an earthquake or a similar event).
Fully-trained dogs – who have to pass a final examination called the “Mission Readiness Test” – can then be called on to respond by the United Nations whenever there is a disaster close to Taichung in the Asian region.
Captain Lin says Guangfu Village is the perfect base for the Rescue Dog Team, as it is close by to the nearby Nantou training center and the 921 Earthquake Museum - and has a large number of dog-friendly locals.
“The Wufung area also has mountains, rivers, and various natural areas we can use to train the dogs. We don’t need to spend money and time maintaining artificial training sites – as uwes firefighters can just train the dogs outside here.” Lin says.
Lin says some of the Rescue Dog Team’s biggest achievements this year have been three of their dogs passing the Mission Readiness Test, and the team making lots of new friends in Guangfu Village.
“Being near the INGO Center, we’ve had the opportunity to educate more foreign guests, local people, and local NGOs about the work that the rescue dog team does.” He adds.
“This is one of the most important things for us – that people understand how important it is to prepare for natural disasters in the future.”