Photo by Elaine Rackley
Debbie Philpot of Omega Team Search and Rescue Group watches as one of her dogs, Angel, searches through debris during training with Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services firefighters.
FOREST PARK — Angel and Sofie sifted through the rubble of a collapsed building, searching for survivors Wednesday.
The K-9s took part in an ongoing training this week with the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services. Clayton firefighters used a vacant fire station, at the intersection of College Street and Charles W. Grant Parkway in Forest Park. The fire station was demolished Monday, according to Clayton Fire Capt. Walter Barber.
Barber said the search and rescue K-9 duo serves as part of Clayton County’s Community Emergency Response Team.
The German shepherds are members of the Omega Team Search and Rescue Group led by Debbie and Lonnie Philpot. The dogs specialize in detecting people — alive or dead — for the search and rescue team, according to Debbie Philpot.
“This is wonderful that they invited us over here,” she said.
She gave commands and signals to Angel as the dog roamed through the debris.
“They go in and search to get a scent that a person is alive,” Debbie Philpot said. “Then we get an alert to let the firefighters know there is someone alive inside.”
She said the dog barks as an alert to let firefighters know where to begin their rescue procedures.
“If she goes to an area where she smells a deceased body, her alert is that she sits,” Debbie Philpot added. “We spend a lot of time training our dogs.”
She added the dogs are required to be well socialized to prevent them from being a distraction around the firefighters.