01.07.2021Search and rescue dogs called in after tornado
Naďa Kramolišová is a search and rescue dog handler in our member organisation SIRIUS and the Czech USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team. She shared with us her experiences of the deployment following the tornado that swept across several villages in the regions of Břeclav and Hodonín on the evening of Thursday, 24 June 2021.
At 9.23 pm I was contacted as a USAR CZ dog handler to assist the search efforts with my dog Nicky (Freya z Hückelovy vily). At midnight, together with three other search and rescue dog teams and four USAR members, we arrived at the scene of the disaster to search the assigned area in the village of Mikulčice. News kept coming in that no missing persons had been reported so far, but that the natural disaster had claimed several lives and injured more than 150 people.
The extent of the damage was enormous and the challenges for our dogs were manifold. Houses were severely damaged or completely destroyed, roofs ripped off, trees uprooted, cars and trucks overturned. The dogs searched the destroyed structures as well as wide areas for buried and missing people. They had to be very focused as the instability of the buildings, broken glass and other sharp objects made the search extremely dangerous. In addition, numerous frightened pets, such as cats, dogs and birds, were roaming the place. The dogs were not to be distracted by this either. Sometimes our dogs would report a find. However, these were always people who were sitting in the ruins of their houses and did not want to leave them.
The mission was also challenging for us search and rescue dog handlers. On the one hand, it is important for us to constantly observe our dogs and their progress in the search, and on the other hand, we had to keep an eye on the stability of the buildings. It is our responsibility not to put ourselves or our dogs in danger. By working at night, we were able to search largely undisturbed. The next morning, the level of noise in the surroundings was already much higher, as the inhabitants returned to their houses and the recovery work began. It was also helpful that we regularly received indications from the locals that no one was missing.
Our work ended on Friday around 4.30 am. Four other USAR CZ search and rescue dog teams had arrived to take over from us. They continued searching for a few more hours until the search work with dogs was stopped in the course of the morning. However, all teams remained on site until the evening in case of a sudden report of a missing person. While the first six teams returned home in the evening, two search and rescue dog handlers remained on site with their dogs until Saturday.
Besides Naďa Kramolišová, the two search and rescue dog handlers Petr Svoboda and Adam Vasilov from the IRO member organisation SIRIUS were deployed too.
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