Local Response Team Trains Next Generation Of Search & Rescue Dogs

6:41 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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Thomasville, NC -- Triad local first responders are watching and waiting for the call to respond to help victims in Oklahoma.

And even though the call hasn't come, they continue to train Search and Rescue (S.A.R.) dogs daily. That's true for James Whiteheart who's a dog handler with the North Carolina Emergency Management Urban Search & Rescue Task Force #5 in Thomasville.

"For us, it is just us doing our job. That's what we train, what we work towards, that's what we strive to do," said Whiteheart who's a volunteer and lives in Mocksville, NC.

Whiteheart trains Maestro, one of the S.A.R. dogs in-training. The 10-month-old K9 started his training at 12 weeks. The dog is expected to be a FEMA certified S.A.R. dog in the Triad within a year.

WFMY News 2 learned this team in training uses simple games, like hide-and-seek to train for disaster. On average, he spends about 15 hours to 20 hours a week, as they train for tragedy. Whiteheart said, "Maestro has about one more year until his training is complete."

"It's something you really don't think about. As people in emergency services, every day we don't think about. It's definitely a calling for us," said Whiteheart.

According to the state's website, there are 11 State Task Force teams in North Carolina.

The Thomasville Rescue Squad is planning a fundraiser to help raise money for it in June. Stay tune for more updates.

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