A WIGAN born fire-fighter’s rescue dog was at the heart of a search for bodies at the site of an explosion in the West Midlands.
Echo, who is a search and rescue dog for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, was drafted in to help at the site of a collapsed building in Stoke earlier this week following reports that people were trapped inside.
After the alarm was raised Echo’s trainer, Mike Dewar, who began his career in Wigan, started the rush-hour journey to Shelton to give the team at the scene the best possible chance of finding anybody who might be trapped.
Mike, who is a Watch Manager, said: “The call was to a gas explosion where a building had collapsed and persons were reported to be trapped inside.
“It was a tough search for Echo not only because it was the hottest day of the year so far but the building had been disintegrated by the blast and he slashed his paw on some glass. He was black all over when he came out because he was covered in dust and his eyes were streaming, but he was okay.”
Mike and Echo, were also accompanied on the job by a search and rescue dog from Merseyside.
He said: “Merseyside’s dog went in after Echo and did a quick sweep of the building but neither dog found anybody.
“After the crews from West Midlands secured the building so it didn’t collapse on the dogs, they went in again and did another sweep but again didn’t find anything.”
It was thanks to the special abilities of the dogs that it was so quickly established that there were no people trapped inside the building, allowing fire crews to make the rest of the site secure.
The incident has now been passed to the local police and an investigation is under way.
Echo is the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) dog and his job is to search for people who have been trapped in a building as a result of an explosion or an earthquake.
He has also helped with search and rescue operations abroad, including Haiti in 2010.