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A Year in Review
The beginning of 2005 started as a very quiet year. In previous years our team has been busy during the summer
months with river drownings or missing children. We did not have either this year.
The beginning of 2005 started as a very quiet year. In previous years our team
has been busy during the summer months with river drownings or missing children.
We did not have either this year.
But then the hurricane season hit. We train as a first responder resource
however we have not had many calls for this type of situation during the history
of the team. Katrina changed that as the hurricane devastated many areas in
Louisiana and Mississippi. GHSD was called to respond to the Slidell area and
the employers of our members were extremely supportive by providing time off to
do this community service.
A disaster situation often leaves the local community without resources to
support search teams, so our team must be self sufficient during these searches.
In this particular situation the resources needed by our team were difficult to
find. Fuel was not available en route once close to the disaster zone and other
amenities were not available to searchers who were not called in by Fire, LE, or
EMS organizations. We were supported by the local response organizations and our
team members bunked with many federal agents and fire service personnel since we
had a direct call from LSU.
Our mission initially was to locate survivors in the debris. It unfortunately
changed to recovery very quickly. The dogs were asked to search unstable
structures and debris for any trace of human remains. Some areas were home to
reptiles that were a danger to our dogs. Our handlers were careful in directing
their dogs and the flankers or support personnel who assisted the canine teams
also acted as safety while the dogs worked many areas in close proximity to the
water. There were concerns about hazardous materials in the search area and
contact by the canines with something that would harm them. All the dogs were
checked by a veterinarian brought in by the LA Fire Service. Once home the dogs
obtained baseline data to determine if their time in service had affected their
health. To date none of our dogs have had any major injury or illness post Katrina.
Then Rita threatened Houston as we were still recovering from the Katrina
search. Our searchers, who were once responders, now became evacuees. The mass
exodus of Houston with the threat of a category 5 hurricane created chaos not
only among the citizens of Houston, but also among our team. We were unable to
respond as support due to our need to find safety for our own families. There
were some team members who did respond to assist at work with medical duties in
addition to disaster team members who responded with the state affiliated disaster teams.
The end of 2005 brought with it many thanks from the members of GHSD. We are
thankful for friends and family and for a wonderful support group within our
team. We care about our community and wish to provide our services during
disaster situations. We train very hard to accomplish this task and educate each
of our members in order to provide a service that will assist in the goals of
our emergency system. The dedication shown by our team members demonstrates the
community concern they feel and their devotion to a cause they believe in.