Area search

The search for missing persons in vast forest areas is the most frequent mission requirement for rescue dogs.

Area search and rescue dogs can be used in many areas. Forest areas are most frequently searched; even very dense vegetation or steep terrain is no obstacle. This often includes meadows and fields. The search can be reliably performed, day and night.

In order to manage all mission situations securely, comprehensive and intensive team training is necessary. The training of area teams of specialised departments is managed by the BRH, which carries out training nationwide. In the training unit of the BRH, the area search department leads training for area search teams (dog handlers with dogs) several times a year, and the department of instructor certification ensures the certification of trainers of the regional squadrons, which is set out in the Quality Manual of the BRH.

Much of this training takes place in theory and practice in the Association’s own training centre in Hünxe. An additional specialist department, the innovative project group, exclusively deals with the development of new training approaches.

The most important training bases of the area dogs include the indication of missing persons, independent search work (independent work-through of different terrain structures taking advantage of wind conditions) and cooperation with handlers (especially guiding dogs at distance as well as sending them into individual terrain sections) to ensure complete coverage of the area.

Dogs are brought up to deal with larger and more complex tasks in the course of training. While at the start of training working through individual training segments according to the four pillars of “playing, indicating, running, smelling” is important, more and more elements are then combined together to constantly further enhance the search abilities of the dog.

Another specialised department in the BRH, the department for basic education, ensures the theoretical training of dog handlers and search group helpers.

During the mission, each handler/dog team will be accompanied by at least one search group helper, who is responsible for the safety of the team, the radio traffic, and orientation.

Dog handlers and a search group helpers are fully trained in the use of maps, compasses and GPS, which are the basis for safe orientation in the field, even in darkness. Continuous training in first aid for man and dog is ensured by qualified personnel. Communication by radio and search and mission tactics complete the basic training.