Rocky Mountain Rescue Dog FTX 2017
Photos and article 1st Lt TeriLee Hammond
This past September, sixteen Phantom and Raptor cadets got together to participate in an FTX with the Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs in the Goblin Valley State Park. A few years ago, the Phantom Squadron joined with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs or RMRD to give their search dogs some extra practice with fresh targets. RMRD is an all-volunteer, non-profit canine search and rescue organization that employs teams which consist of a handler and their dog that is trained to locate human targets in the event of a missing person or fatal injury in the wilderness. The dogs are specially trained to locate human targets from miles away, even in adverse weather or challenging terrain. The activity was a practice SAR designed to give their incident commanders an opportunity to dispatch up to 8 teams to locate victims in a desert setting.
During the three-day activity, the cadets worked on their radio communications and learned how to use GPS handheld units. Each cadet was assigned to one of three CAP teams, led by C/2d Lt Robert Hammond, C/CMSgt Taylor Maki and C/TSgt Hayden Maki, which were then assigned an area in Goblin Valley State Park so the cadets could hide among the hoodoos to wait out the night until a rescue dog found them.
Saturday morning, the cadets headed into the park to find and then mark hiding spots on the GPS before heading back to camp to get some lunch and rest up for the adventure that night. Once dusk was upon us, the cadets headed back to Goblin Valley to get into their hiding holes for the long night and then the waiting began for them. Meanwhile, RMRD prepared to deploy search dogs, equipped with GPS collars, and their handlers into an assigned area to ‘find the lost hikers’.
Incident Command was set up at the pavilion in the park where Courtney Lawrence, a member of RMRD, could see on her laptop where each of the cadets were hiding and was able to watch in real time the dogs GPS as they searched and honed in on their targets. Throughout the night each cadet had to radio their team leader every 30 minutes for a comms check and them the team leaders would radio into IC at the top of each hour and report to 1st Lt Kris Nelson that all was well.
As the night went along cadets were found by the various teams with C/A1C Khyber Lee from Richfield being the last find early Sunday morning around 0200. Everyone then headed back to camp to get some well-deserved rest before heading home later that day.