Molly Learns To Fly
Search dog Molly tested out overseas deployment procedures when she and handler James represented Serve On at the Cascade’19 EU Civil Protection Exercise in Portugal.
The three day exercise saw the Serve On team heavily involved in a range of tasks and the valuable learning that went with them.
James and Molly deployed under the command and control of the Associacao Humanitaria dos Bombeiros Volontarios de Peniche (AHBV).
This gave the AHBV team the medium INSARAG status they needed to act as a single unit and gave Serve On the opportunity to test out the ability of the Dog Team (SODT) to deploy in support of other agencies.
With Molly given Assistance Dog status and a place in the cabin, she and James were treated like VIPs for the TAP Air flight to Portugal, following necessary pre-flight checks and clearance by the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow.
They were met on arrival and transported to the exercise area to be met by the Commandante Operacional Municipal in Peniche (COM) and introduced to the AHBV team.
James said: “Molly and I were made to feel part of the team right from the start and within the three days the bond created between us and the AHBV guys was strengthened as we learned to work alongside each other.
“We were able to work alongside the Assessment Team on given tasks; we searched and provided support to the assessment of the tasks for the main team; and within the three days we delivered around nine large searches and various other smaller searches.
“We worked alongside local dog teams from the Police and Emergency Services, got to meet teams from Spain and Belgium as well and shared experiences with them as part of the exercise.
“By the end of the three days we had fine tuned the way that we worked and both the AHBV assessment team and we had developed a common working practice that on the final test exercise I believe showed the true value of the exercise to helping us formulate the procedures for our future working practices.”
He said there were far more positives to take from the trip than negatives, and even the negatives that arose out of the journey home had proved useful pointers for the future.
Molly, who found various ways to keep cool in the heat, seemed happy with entire trip… apart from the lack of sausage sandwiches.